EU Firefighters Arrive in Greece for Summer Mission

EU firefighters Greece
The Romanian contingent, which was the first foreign unit to arrive, comprises 28 firefighters and five vehicles. Credit: Greek Fire Service

Greece welcomed on Friday the first contingent of a total of 200 EU firefighters who started their mission to assist the work of their Greek colleagues during the summer firefighting season.

The Romanian contingent, which was the first foreign unit to arrive, comprises 28 firefighters and five vehicles. The contingent will remain in Athens until the end of July. On August 1, they will be replaced by 25 French firefighters with four tenders and three auxiliary vehicles.

Other units, from Bulgaria, Germany, Norway, and Finland, will be based in Larissa and Tripoli during July and August.

LIke the Romanians, French and Bulgarians will bring their own vehicles, while the Germans, Finns and Norwegians will bring equipment like pumps and hoses that can be fitted Greek tenders. The Norwegians will also bring a drone.

Each foreign unit will be assigned a Greek colleague who will act as a liaison.

The Bulgarian firefighting team, comprising 16 firefighters and four vehicles, will be based in Larissa during July.

The German group will arrive in Tripoli mid-July, where they will remain for two weeks, before being replaced by 14 Norwegian and 24 Finnish colleagues.

EU firefighters hope to prevent the 2021 catastrophe

Greece is bracing for the fire season hoping to avoid a repeat of 2021 when it was hit by some of the most devastating fires in recent history in the northern part of Evia island and West Attica.

The new fire season started on May 1st and it will last until October 31st. The New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which in 2021 admitted to  shortcomings in dealing with hundreds of fires spontaneously across the country, is stepping up preparations.

Greece creates new firefighting force for fire season

Greece has taken additional steps to prevent a repeat of 2021’s catastrophe by hiring more firefighters, utilizing the army, and banning all activities near wooded areas on days when there is a high risk of fire.

Earlier in May, the Fire Service created a new corps and began training 500 specialist firefighters. They will serve for seven years with 440 designated as specialist firefighting personnel and 60 as scientific firefighting personnel specializing in forestry.

This new corps will be active in forests in cooperation with foresters and scientific experts. They will not only serve during a crisis but throughout the year by contributing to preventative projects. They will also be the vanguard in all efforts to tackle blazes, as they will be transported by helicopter to the center of the fire.

Authentic Marathon Swim Recreated in Honor of Ancient Greek Heroes

Marathon swim Greece
The Marathon competition reenacts the famous swim by Hydna and her father Scyllis, in 480 BC. Credit: Facebook/Authentic Marathon Swim

The authentic Marathon swim is taking place this weekend off the island of Evia in Greece with the participation of hundreds of swimmers from all over the world.

2,500 years after it first happened, competitors from 14 countries swim in the waters where the epic battle of Artemisium took place which was fought between Greek and Persian naval forces ten years after the Battle of Marathon, during the same year of the Battle of Thermopylae.

The original 16-kilometer swim between the Pelion peninsula and the island of Evia was achieved by Hydna and her father Scyllis, in 480 BC.

Authentic Marathon swim at the epic battle of Artemisium site

The battle first recorded by the Greek geographer Pausanias, who wrote his accounts during the 2nd century AD, occurred on the eve of the Persian leader Xerxes’ naval campaign.

On that dark day, a menacing fleet of 1,207 of his ships was moored off the Pelion peninsula, facing the island of Evia, ready to take part in his renewed attacks in the effort to take over Greece — and thereby gain an important foothold on the European mainland.

The Greek forces were represented by a much smaller group of only 271 ships, according to the historian Herodotus.

At the same time, a man named Scyllis and his daughter Hydna had become so proficient at deep-sea diving that their services had been requisitioned by Xerxes as a means to plunder the many shipwrecks that were already under the waves at that time.

Unbeknownst to him, the daring Greek father and daughter duo had other plans. Taking advantage of a huge storm that blew up as the ships from both sides sat at their moorings the day before the battle, the anchors of the Persian fleet’s vessels were dragged away by Hydna and Scyllis, causing many of them to be destroyed in the maelstrom.

As Pausanias wrote, in his work entitled Description of Greece, “When the fleet of Xerxes was attacked by a violent storm off Mount Pelion, father and daughter completed its destruction by dragging away under the sea the anchors and any other security the triremes had.”

The father and daughter became so famous for their feat that statues of them were even erected at Delphi, the beautiful religious sanctuary on the Greek mainland.

Tragically, however, the statues have been lost to time as the Roman emperor Nero was known to have taken at least 500 statues from Delphi back to Rome. Pausanias noted at the time that one of these statues was indeed of Scyllis’ heroic daughter, Hydna.

NASA to Reveal Deepest Image of the Universe Ever Taken

NASA Universe image
Credit: NASA

NASA will reveal the “deepest image of our Universe that has ever been taken,” on July 12th, Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator said earlier in the week attributing the achievement to the newly operational James Webb Space Telescope.

During a press briefing at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Nelson said “this is farther than humanity has ever looked before.” The operation center observatory that was launched in December of last year for $10 billion is now orbiting the Sun a million miles away from Earth.

The Webb Space Telescope is a sensation of engineering, as it is able to gaze further into the cosmos than any telescope before it, thanks to its enormous primary mirror and instruments that focus on infrared, allowing it to peer through dust and gas.

“It’s going to explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to our own,” added Nelson, speaking via phone while isolating with COVID-19.

Nelson further said that some questions potentially answered by Webb include those about our origins and about what else might be out there. Its infrared capabilities allow it to see deeper back in time to the Big Bang of 13.8 billion years ago.

The Spectroscopy tool in Webb will analyze the chemical and molecular composition of distant objects, and a planetary spectrum can help characterize its atmosphere and other properties such as the existence of water and the composition of its surface.

NASA’s Webb telescope can observe the Universe

The earliest cosmological observations currently date to within 330 million years of the Big Bang, but with Webb’s capacities, astronomers believe they will easily break the record.

Due to the continuous expansion of the universe, light from the earliest stars shifts from the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths it was emitted in to longer, infrared wavelengths equipped in the Webb telescope. Unprecedented resolutions can be detected.

Due to the efficient launch by NASA‘s partner, Arianespace, the telescope could remain operational for twenty years, which would be twice the lifespan initially envisaged. This was revealed by NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy.

Pam Melroy further said, “Not only will those 20 years allow us to go deeper into history, and time, but we will go deeper into science because we have the opportunity to learn and grow and make new observations.”

Nestor Espinoza, an STSI astronomer, said that previous exoplanet spectroscopies carried out using existing instruments were quite limited compared to what Webb could do.

NASA also intends to share Webb’s first spectroscopy of a faraway planet, known as an exoplanet, on July 12th, according to NASA’s top scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen.

“Right from the beginning, we’ll look at these worlds out there that keep us awake at night as we look into the starry sky and wonder […if] there [is] life elsewhere?” said Zurbuchen.

Greek Macaroni & Cheese: The Perfect Summer Dish

Greek Macaroni
Greek Macaroni & Cheese recipe. Credit: Grecian Delight/Kronos

Greek macaroni and cheese is an easy-to-make dish perfect for the summer months. Macaroni is the ultimate comfort food for many people across the globe. The small tube-like elbow pasta made with durum wheat can be fashioned into many different dishes—not just Mac and Cheese.

Macaroni can sit well with any kind of food and ingredient, making it quite a useful food to have in your kitchen. You can cook it to make yourself a healthy meal, a guilt-ridden, indulgent meal, or a quick snack for untimely hunger. All you need is some recipes handy to make your favorite macaroni in no time.

Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods has prepared a recipe that would tantalize everyone’s taste buds in no time.

Ingredients for Greek Macaroni & Cheese

3 slices crust-less white bread, torn into small pieces
9 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, to taste
8 oz. hollow pasta, preferably elbow macaroni
1⁄4 cup flour
3 cups milk
4 cups grated graviera or kefalotyri cheese (about 12 oz.)
½ cup Greek Yogurt Tzatziki
3⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 large shallots, finely chopped
16 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
8 scallions cut into 1⁄4″-thick rounds
1⁄3 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
1 3⁄4 cups crumbled feta (about 8 oz.)

Preparation

Put bread into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Put bread crumbs and 3 tbsp. butter into a small bowl and combine; set aside. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Heat remaining butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Still whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in milk and cook until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in graviera or kefalotyri cheese, Greek Yogurt Tzatziki, cinnamon, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper; set béchamel sauce aside.

Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a 5-qt. pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add spinach and scallions and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved béchamel sauce, the dill, and the reserved pasta and transfer mixture to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs and the feta. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe was brought to you by Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods, for more recipes like these please visit gdkfoods.com

Greece to Temporarily Reopen the Corinth Canal on Monday

Corinth Canal
PM Mitsotakis inspects restoration works carried out at the Corinth Canal. Credit: PM Press Office

Greece will temporarily reopen the Corinth Canal for three months on Monday, July 4th to accommodate summer maritime traffic, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.

The premier was speaking after his crossing of the canal to inspect the progress of restoration efforts that began after large-scale landslides occurred in November 2020 and again in January and February 2021.

“There has been no substantial intervention at Corinth Canal over the last 130 years,” he noted, and he pointed out that it will close again in early October to allow for the second stage of restoration on the canal.

In the summer of 2023, he added, the canal will reopen for four months, and the project will be completed in 2023, including the restored section.

At a budget of 32 million euros, noted government officials, there are two stages to the restoration project. The first involves the slope relief work and the cleaning of the canal by July of this year while the second stage pertains to harbor work to stabilize the base of the slopes, which will begin in autumn 2022.

“We intervened at the right time, and finished the studies in record time, for a challenging project,” Deputy Infrastructure Minister Giorgos Karagiannis said, briefing the prime minister along with Aktor construction company’s managing director, Christos Panagiotopoulos.

The Corinth Canal is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the entire nation, and its long closure has been disastrous for transport and tourism in the country.

In February 2021, a landslide forced authorities to stop the operation of the Corinth Canal. Restoration began, but in July, new landslides put a stop to the work altogether.

The landslides were particularly destructive, as massive boulders from the side of the Peloponnese fell into the canal.

The history of the Corinth canal

Opened on July 25, 1893, the Corinth Canal is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the modern Greek State, instantly changing all major maritime activity in the country.

Construction started in 1882, and the canal was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Sotirios Sotiropoulos. Yet, it was completed by his predecessor Charilaos Trikoupis whose term had ended only two months prior to that date.

Before the canal was built, ships from the Ionian Sea headed to Athens or the Aegean islands had to go around the Peloponnese peninsula and vice versa.

After 1893, cargo and passenger ships would only have to cross the Isthmus of Corinth and reach their destination much more quickly.

How Ancient Greeks Nurtured Healthy, Glowing Skin

healthy skin
“Discobolus,” by Myron (460-450 BC) detail. Public Domain

As admirers of beauty, ancient Greeks placed great emphasis on healthy skin, and they used natural substances to keep it clean and glowing.

Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was a prominent figure in Greek mythology while ancient Greek statues are still admired for their perfect lines and ideal depiction of the human body.

Natural cosmetics were used widely and regularly for not only one’s physical appearance but also for a healthy skin and body.

Precious oils, cosmetic powders, skin glosses, paints, and beauty unguents among other things were used in the Ancient Greek beauty regimen. Ancient Greeks made their own skincare products using natural ingredients.

Homer extensively described skincare routines as part of funerary and spiritual rituals in the Iliad.

Must-have skincare items in ancient Greece

The three main ingredients ancient Greeks used to promote healthy, attractive complexion were olive oil, honey, and yogurt. They also used fresh berries mixed with milk.

The latter was used to make face masks. The ingredients were made into a paste and applied to the face for moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

Ancient Greeks also used olives and olive oil as exfoliants and moisturizers. On top of that, olive oil made the skin look shiny and healthy while adding a bit of glowing color.

Honey, along with milk and yogurt was used as part of anti-aging preparations. Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, honey also helped with certain types of acne.

Greek yogurt is also a natural moisturizer which contains probiotics, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, making it great as an anti-aging mask.

Yogurt is also good for the skin, as it revitalizes dry skin and works wonders in cases of eczema.

Ancient Greek women would also use sea salt mixed with olive oil as a scrub for healthy, exfoliated skin.

The pomegranate has been a symbol of good luck, prosperity, and health since ancient times. The ancient Greeks used pomegranate juice for cleansing open pores and balancing oily skin.

Healthy skin
Strigils (left) and a kylix depicting an athlete scraping his skin with a strigil (490-480 BC). Credit: Archaeological Museum of Madrid,/VIATOR IMPERI/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

The strigil in ancient Greece and Rome

The strigil was an ancient Greek and Roman tool used to scrape oil, dirt, perspiration, and other contaminants off the skin after an athlete trained.

In Rome, gladiators would use such tools after a fight. This cleaning tool was often depicted in ancient Greek amphora and kylix paintings alongside athletes.

In ancient times, athletes would rub their entire body with olive oil before athletics or training in the gymnasium or the palestra. After their workout, they would use a strigil to scrape off the oil and dirt before entering the baths to wash.

The strigil was made of metal, mostly bronze, and was shaped like the letter J with a looped handle at the top.

The curved end was broader and molded into a concave shape to scrape unwanted materials off the skin.

The body was rubbed with olive oil not only to promote healthy skin but also for aesthetic reasons.

Additionally, in wrestling, athletes would throw dust over their opponents’ oily bodies, partially to increase their grip on the otherwise slippery skin.

Following competitions, these men would scrape these substances off their bodies using a strigil, seemingly believing that a well-scraped skin is a healthy skin.

The scraped residue was sometimes collected because fans of the athletes would be willing to buy it in the belief that if they rubbed it on their own body, they would acquire the strength and bravery of the athlete.

The athlete’s or fighter’s residue was also believed to have healing properties, so it was often saved for salves.

Depictions of athletes using a strigil in amphorae and engravings were strictly of men. This particular tool was so often associated with athletes that it was sometimes also found in their tombs.

However, strigils have sometimes been found in women’s tombs, as well.

 

The Rich History of the Acropolis of Lindos

Acropolis of Lindos
The Acropolis of Lindos on Rhodes above the village. Credit: Jebulon/Wikimedia Commons

The history of the Acropolis of Lindos on Rhodes is as old as the history of ancient Greece, as tradition has Lindos participating in the fabled Trojan War.

The same tradition says that Lindos was founded by Danaos, and it was the ruler Tlepolemus, the son of Heracles and Astyoche, who sided with the Achaeans against the Trojans in the conflict.

Lindos was a member of the Doric Exapolis, and on its citadel, it had the famous temple of Athena Lindia, which took its final form in 300 BC.

Today, the Acropolis of Lindos is the main archeological site of Rhodes, with the 116-meter (381-foot) high cliff dominating the town and overlooking the sea.

It is a natural fortification that was used by the ancient Greeks and by the Romans, Byzantines, Knights of St. John, and Ottomans later on.

Lindos’ rich history, combined with the unique natural beauty of the site, make the Acropolis of Lindos the third most popular archaeological site in Greece in terms of visitors.

History of the Acropolis of Lindos

The temple dedicated to the goddess Athena is estimated to have been constructed during the 9th century BC. By 700 BC, Lindos was already an important commercial center in the region and a mighty naval power, as well.

Lindos flourished in archaic times under the rule of the moderate tyrant Cleobulus, considered one of the Seven Sages of Greece, during the 6th century BC.

In classical times, although a Doric city, it participated in the Alliance of Delos, but during the Peloponnesian War, it allied with the Lacedaemonians. Its importance gradually faded after the founding of Rhodes in 407 BC.

Lindos has been continuously inhabited over the centuries. It has a rich history, as proven by the numerous archaeological findings from the archaic era and later.

The construction and reconstruction of the acropolis continued during the Roman and Byzantine eras, leaving traces to this day.

As Christianity was rising, ancient temples were converted to Christian churches. What remains today are the Castle of the Knights of St. John, which was an expansion of earlier Byzantine fortifications.

When the Ottomans took over, it was used as a fortress. Unfortunately, no effort was made for its restoration.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Danish archaeologists Kinch and Blinkenberg conducted excavations in southern Rhodes and the Acropolis of Lindos.

Their findings were transported out of the country; now, they are on display at the Copenhagen Museum. After the occupation of Rhodes by the Kingdom of Italy, Italian archaeologists also conducted research throughout Rhodes.

A great deal of restoration work was done on the Acropolis of Lindos by the Italians, who recognized the importance of the site.

After the Dodecanese passed into the hands of the Greek state after World War II, continuation of restoration works was undertaken by the Hellenic Archaeological Service from 1948 onward.

Acropolis of Lindos
Temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Lindos. Credit:Jebulo/Wikimedia Commons CC0

The temple of Lindia Athena

In ancient times, the citadel of Lindos had as its central place of worship the temple of Lindia Athena.

According to Greek mythology, when Danaos left Egypt with his daughters, he sailed to Lindos, where he was warmly received by the inhabitants.

Danaos built the sanctuary of Lindia Athena and dedicated a statue to the goddess before sailing to Argos.

It is not known exactly when the original temple was built. Historical evidence suggests it was built in the 6th century BC.

The ruler of Lindos, Cleobulus, restored the sanctuary around 342 BC but it was later destroyed by fire.

Archaeologists estimate that the Doric type temple of Athena, parts of which survive to this day, were actually built in the 4th century BC.

During the Classical and Hellenistic eras, the sanctuary of Lindia Athena had a pan-Hellenic reputation, and during the heyday of the Rhodian State, the Acropolis of Lindos was further embellished, as impressive Propylaea, a Stoa, and wall were built.

Especially noteworthy is the relief of a triumvirate that is preserved at the base of the archaeological site of the acropolis and dates back to the second century BC.

Structural, architectural, fortification elements

On the Acropolis of Lindos, the most important monuments belong to antiquity, with the Doric temple of Athena standing out among them.

Other important monuments are the Propylaea of ​​the holy temple from the same era and the Hellenistic Stoa, dating back to 200 BC, which is 87 meters (285 feet) long with 42 columns.

There is also the Rhodian trireme that is embossed on a rock at the foot of the citadel from 180 BC and the Hellenistic wall that surrounds the citadel.

From the era of the Knights of St. John survives the Castle that was built shortly before 1317, constructed on top of a Byzantine structure.

On the south side, a pentagonal building overlooked the entire port, as well as the fortress and the road.

Representing the Byzantine era onward, there is the Church of Agios Ioannis, built around the 13th or 14th century, on top of another church that must have been built in 500 AD.

The ancient theater of Lindos

The ancient theater of Lindos is another archaeological monument, situated at the foot of the west slope of the Acropolis of Lindos.

The theater, which dates back to the 4th century BC, had a capacity of 1,800 to 2,000 spectators.

It is connected to the great city festivals in honor of Dionysos, the Sminthia, which included theatrical, musical and athletic competitions, processions, and sacrifices.

In the third century BC, directly adjacent to the theater, there was the Tetrastoon, a rectangular building with an internal colonnade, which was perhaps a sanctuary of Dionysos Smintheus.

Today, the only rock-carved sections preserved there are the circular orchestra, the three central cunei of the lower cavea, and parts of the two neighboring ones, as well as the central section of the upper cavea.

 

Traditional Fava Festival on Schinoussa Unites Generations

pappous dance granddaughter schinoussa fava festival
The dance shared between a Greek grandfather and his granddaughter at the fava festival on the Greek island of Schinoussa went viral in Greece. Credit: Screenshot/ Youtube

The ninth-annual Fava Festival on the island of Schinoussa unites people—locals and visitors, neighbors and friends, and even generations.

The Festival took place on the 24th and 25th of June on the tiny island of Schinoussa, which is located in the Cyclades.

The Greek island is known for its produce and traditional food in general but particularly for its fava, a traditional Greek spread made from yellow split peas.

The yellow split peas can be found all across Schinoussa, and the dip is famous across the country.

Schinoussa Fava Festival

This year, festival organizers were dedicated to protecting the island’s natural environment and reducing waste. Rather than giving out plastic cups to visitors for drinks, organizers requested that all those who wished to attend bring their own glass cups to the festival.

As part of the festival, visitors are offered samples of the dish, all while bands play traditional Greek music as well as songs from the island.

One of the most beloved aspects of such traditional Greek festivals, which can be found across the country, is the dancing.

Those who feel inspired by the music are welcome to get up and partake in Greek dancing. In fact, the moving dance between a Greek grandfather and his granddaughter at the Fava Festival has gone viral in Greece.

Giorgos Kovaios, 89, and his granddaughter Pothiti, roused the crowd at the festival dedicated to one of the island’s specialties.

Viewers were amazed by the Greek pappous’ passion and dancing ability as well as the love clearly shared between the grandfather and his granddaughter.

Traditional Greek dances have the ability to unite generations, as younger Greeks have recently begun to rediscover and appreciate the dances with which their grandparents were raised.

Greek pappous and granddaughter dance goes viral

One Facebook page, called “Rizes,” or “Roots,” wrote:

Giorgos Kovaios, 89, dancing with his granddaughter Pothiti at the 9th annual Fava Festival on Schinoussa. We met him the next day, and he was full of happiness telling us about how his island had filled up with visitors. Quite simply a welcoming island resident. An example and inspiration for all of us. Only respect.

The dance shared between the grandfather and his granddaughter exemplifies the strong family bonds and dedication to tradition for which Greece is famous.

Schinoussa, which is considered one of the “Small Cyclades,” is home to just 400 residents and measures just 9 square kilometers (3.5 square miles).

The charming island is located south of Naxos, and the traditional villages of Mersini, which is the port, Hora, the main town, and Messaria, are popular amongst travelers who are trying to avoid the crowds found on larger Greek islands.

What Happened at an Ancient Greek Symposium

ancient greece symposium greek
Symposium scene on an ancient Greek Kylix, or drinking cup. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

The symposium was one of the most important aspects of ancient Greek culture, as it served as an essential setting for discussions, revelry, and debates among some of the most prominent figures in Greek antiquity.

Symposium, or “συμπόσιον” in Greek, comes from the words “σύν” and “πίνω,” or “drink together” in other words. It describes a banquet amongst many guests, all men, that usually occurred after a meal had been served.

During the symposium, men of the aristocracy drank wine and enjoyed music, performances, dancing, and other forms of entertainment.

Serious debates and discussion regarding matters of public interest, politics, art, culture, and philosophy took place at symposia.

Ancient Greek Symposium: eat, drink, philosophize

Ancient texts such as Plato’s Symposium and Xenophon’s Symposium, both of which were written in the 4th century BC, provide a look into the ritualized drinking party.

Symposia were held in private homes in a special room called an “Andron.” The room was usually situated at the front of the house, and those participating in the event would recline on couches that lined the room.

Ancient Greeks would also recline as they ate. The habit of reclining to dine in ancient Greece began at least as early as the 7th century B.C. and was later picked up by the Romans.

Strangely, Greeks are always pictured lying on their left side—never their right.

The reason for this tradition is not entirely clear, but historians and classicists have debated the topic for decades.

Some argue that lying on this particular side leaves the right hand free to grasp vessels used to eat and drink; yet, there are examples of Greeks in ancient art reclining on their left side and still using their left hands to eat and drink.

According to scholars, it would be rare for an andron to house more than seven to nine couches, which limited the number of total participants to under thirty.

The special room and the couches found within it, along with the cups used to drink wine, were usually finely decorated and served as a show of one’s wealth and fine taste.

Entertainment could include musicians playing the flute and other ancient instruments, poetry recitals, dances, and even acrobats.

There was also an erotic element to many symposia, as evidenced by the large number of vases and artworks depicting sexual scenes at the ancient drinking parties.

Sex and drinking games

Although only men were allowed to participate in the symposium itself, women were permitted to enter the andron as entertainers or courtesans.

In ancient Greece, courtesans, or “hetairai,” were not simply escorts. They were seen as educated, interesting, and intelligent so that they could have engaging discussions with their clients.

A number of particularly alluring and intelligent hetairai became famous and garnered significant influence in ancient Greece, most notably Phryne.

Hetairai attended symposia to provide not just sex but also to perform music and even engage in debates and discussions with the participants. Ancient vases also depict sexual activity between men at symposia.

While the sexual and more intellectual aspects of the symposium may be well known, many may be surprised to learn that the ancient Greeks also played drinking games.

Ancient Greeks are famous for their love of wine, but the wine they drank does not resemble the alcoholic beverage we consume today.

In antiquity, Greeks drank diluted wine that was mixed with water in a container called a krater.

Drinking undiluted wine was something associated with non-Greeks, who were considered barbarians and was thought to cause unruly and unbecoming behavior.

For this reason, ancient Greeks drank diluted wine, which allowed them to maintain their composure and self control.

This diluted water-wine mix left dregs from the wine-making process at the bottom of drinkers’ vessels. A popular drinking game called “kottabos” involved throwing one’s dregs at the bottom of their cup onto the floor, with the hopes of spelling out the first letter of their lover’s name with the remnants, or of hitting a particular spot on the floor.

For this reason, most floors in the special rooms where symposia took place were waterproof.

Fr. Alex Karloutsos to be Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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karloutsos
Father Alex Karloutsos, former Vicar General for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will be receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Credit: Fr. Karloutsos

Father Alex Karloutsos, former Vicar General for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will be receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work as a spiritual leader, according to a statement released by the White House on Friday.

Karloutsos is among the most prominent religious figures in the United States. He holds liasonships, advisory roles and is a counselor to some of our nation’s highest decision-makers. Throughout his tenure, he has known eight US Presidents.

Karloutsos retired from his role in the Church in May of last year. In a letter to Archibishop Elpidophoros he mentions that he had submitted his retirement when he turned 75, but “it was not accepted.”

Father Alex Karloutsos to be awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

However last year he insisted and finally his “request” was approved by the Archbishop and so he retired from active ministry on May 3, 2021.

At the time of his retirement, Karloutsos stressed that he would “retire but not retreat” and still planned to remain active in the Church.

Karloutsos is among the seventeen total recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom that were announced by the White House on Friday.

Other recipients include Simone Biles, Olympic medalist and the most decorated American gymnast in history, former US representative and gun control activist Gabrielle Giffords, and actor Denzel Washington.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States and is awarded by the President to people who have aided or represented the country significantly in their lives.

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the White House on July 7, 2022.

One of the most recognizable figures in Greek Orthodox Church

Karloutsos was born in Greece and immigrated to the United States with his family at a young age.

His father, a priest himself, traveled the U.S. sharing God’s message. When Father Alex was in his earliest years of life, his mother tragically passed, leaving his father to raise six children.

Karloutsos started as an assistant priest at Sts. Constantine and Helen in Chicago in 1970, where he was active in youth ministries.

Some years later, he was appointed to the position of Archdiocesan Director of Youth Ministry and moved the headquarters to New York.

Later in the ’70s, Father Alex became the Archdiocesan Director of the Office of the Church and Society, where he served until 1980, when he then assumed the role of Director of the Department of Communications.

In just a short time, he went from a local priest, to being one of the most recognizable names in the Greek Orthodox Church.