Saturday, 27 December 2014

Xmas greetings

Today is Childermas in my time zone. The 12 days of Christmas continue until Epiphany. Normal if thats the right word posting resumes next week.

Dec 16 2016 while I finish this year's ecards I'm bumping a few older posts

Saturday, 20 December 2014

House of Sand House of Rock

#Gospel #Biblestudy

Matthew Chapter 7 Verses 24 - 29

literal translation

everyone therefore whoever hears  my the words  these
(notice how greek uses both a definite article and a demonstrative for emphasis)
and does them I will liken (say compare in modern english for homoioosoo ) him
to a man prudent who built his home upon the rock.
(the origin of the rock of faith metaphor also claimed by catholics to be a reference to Peter )

and came down the rain
and came the rivers (ie like a  flash  flood )
and blew the winds falling upon that house
and not it fell
for it was founded on rock

Note the parallelism

and everyone who hears (pas means each or every  here) my the words these
parallelism again
and not doing them he shall / should be compared to a man foolish
who built the house his upon sand
and came down the rain
and came the rivers
andblew the winds
and striking that house
and it fell and was the fall of it great

Now a foolish person or a desperate farmer probably sometimes in low sandy valleys thinking it safe since floods and rain was rare but sensible people do not build on flood plains

what did his audience think of his preaching?

and it happened when had completely finished the  jesus the words those astonished the crowds at his teaching
he was for teaching them as power having and kai not as the scribes

remember your "crowd" or mob are not scribes or scholars but "everyman"

This is the end of my hopefully helpful notes on the Sermon on the Mount.

Next Year I'll start by repeating  some older grammar notes for beginners before moving onto a different section of the Gospels in Greek.

Catching Cerberos

THE FINAL #hercworks

#Heracles and #Cerberos

This myth seemed to have been used to promote the Eleusinian Mysteries and justify the rites expansion to include non Athenians.

Heracles was ordered to descend to the Underworld and return with
Cerberos Hades' pet.

Before he could do so he had to be ritually cleansed of blood pollution.

Now Hades told his nephew he could borrow the dog if he could restrain and control it without using his club or arrows. Most versions of the story claim he wrestled or throttled the monstrous giant hound into submission and once again terrified his cousin but one Attic vase painter seems to have thought he took a gentler approach.

Have an excellent mid winter feast whatever mysteries rites and myths you honour!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

I did not know you!

#gospel #biblestudy #whatjesusaid #greeknewtestament

Matthew Chapter 7 21-23

Paraphrase and notes first

Not all who say to me Lord! Lord! will enter into the realm of the heavens

note eiseleusetai erkhomai future stem eleuso

but he who the will of the father mine in the heavens (will)

many will say ero future of lego to me in (during / on) that day Lord Lord
not in the your name / in your note did we not prophetize
and by / in your name demons cast out
and ny your name works of power many do ?

and then I will declare / state / to them

Never I knew you!

Get away from me
those working lawlessness

note not merely sinners but people who claim and think they are doing things in the name of the divine but actually work against divine law !

Anomia is the final word in greek and if there was such a word in english you could translate it as UNLAW ?

And what is the LAW ?

remember Jesus said the Law could be summed up as
Love the Divine and love your neighbour!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Poor Ladon Poor Heracles

#hercworks #heracles #hercules #hesperides #greekmythology

Poor #Heracles 

He gets back to Greece from that cattle raid and gets sent back to the farthest reaches of the world and beyond to retrieve the golden apples of the Hesperides!

Some people think these were oranges tho since apples in ancient Greece seem to have been red they may have been some variant with yellow coloring?

Now these apples came from an orchard tended by the daughters of Atlas and guarded by a creature described as a dragon but usually depicted as a rather friendly looking snake ? 

Being Heracles he has several adventures on the way, killing a son of Ares, catching and interrogating Nereus, wrestling Antaios, slaying a tyrant called Busiris,  freeing Prometheus, and then he cons his cousin Atlas into picking and fetching the apples for him or in some versions killing the serpent whose name was Ladon. Hera created the constellation Serpens in memory of the faithful guardian of the tree.  

No stories record how the Hesperides felt about all this!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

False Prophets and Bad fruit

#gospel #biblestudy

Matthew Chapter 7 15 - 20

literal translation

15  beware of false prophets

(bear in mind prophets were also teachers not just seers or wonder workers )
who(ever)  its hostis in greek ! comes towards you in clothing  dative of enduma used of sheep probatoon  inside but they are wolves ravagers

16  from the fruit of them you should know them!

future form of epiginooskoo

 not you gather from thorns bunches of grapes or from nettles figs?

17 likewise  so each good tree fine fruit makes
and the bad tree wretched fruit makes

note new word sapron

18 not it is possible tree good fruit bad to make
nor tree bad fruit fine to make

19 each tree not to make fruit fine it is cut up and into fire throw

20  surely from the fruit of them you will know them

Something to consider ?

Sick or poor quality trees can sometimes be improved  of coppicing
removing dead or diseased wood and branches and old growth ?

Its late afternoon in my time zone and we've had yet another violent storm sweep over the city. Pray and HELP storm victims and bear in mind the Phillipines too where its hurricane season !

Friday, 5 December 2014


#hercules #geryon #HERACLES
Good morning metousia followers !
I took a break over thanksgiving and then local storms and other problems disrupted my blogging schedule.

I simply couldnt find one good image I liked of the Geryon stories.
Its a odd one with a Celtic flaviur. Heracles shoots arrows at the sun and gets given a cup that can be used as a boat a kind of magical size changing coracle.
Coracles are NOT greek.
He also journeys to the mysterious West and steals cattle from a sacred guardian his dog. he guardian has 3 bodies and the dog 2 heads.

The Greeks seemed to have used this story to support colonization and trade with Spain and Southern France. A three bodied warrior suggests some kind of ritual combat and while most versions claim this took place in spain it could have been in a Celtiberian area!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Narrow Gate

#biblestudy #newtestamentgreek #whatjesussaid

Matthew Chapter 7 Verses 13 -14

you have undoubtedly noticed some people obsess on scriptural inerrancy and other people on textual criticism.

Here's the literal translation for study purposes

in-enter (compound verb where English uses a prep) thru the narrow gate
hoti as a causal particle so translated for rather than that
wide the gate and easy/broad the road the one away-leading into the destruction
and many they are those who income / enter thru it.

verse 14 starts with TI  in some greek texts and oti in others!

this doesnt change the meaning in any major way so if you see people invalidating the bible because there is textual variants  well avoid extremism ... read scripture sensibly ...

if the verse starts ti  then it reads WHAT or HOW or

maybe this way

 how narrow the gate and difficult the road that leads into or towards the life
 and few they are the ones who are finding it.

if the verse starts oti then

for narrow the gate and ...

see don't get hung up on scriptural inerrancy or textual variants

most of the differences are minor

in this case some scribe probably dropped an o!

The meaning is simple

enter through the narrow difficult gate to life

Having said that though bear in mind the road widens beyond the gate and if you're on the wrong road its possible to detour and cut cross country onto the right one!

Next wednesday back to Heracles!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Heracles and the Amazons

#Heracles #amazons #queenhippolyte

oh @##@#$$% herc he didnt behave very well on this adventure

official version is Heracles sailed all the way to the black sea to get a jewelled belt for his cousin's daughter

unofficial version

hey thinks Eurystheneus Maybe the amazons will kill him for me

Lets just enjoy some pictures of Hippolyte ! Here's two versions one of her as a regal queen and the next as a warrior queen.

Actually no one knows whether she was blonde brunette or whatever.

They seem to be a folk memory of some kind of matrilineal culture in Asia Minor that had female temple guardians. One Hellenistic historian mentions female temple guards called Amazons and claims there were colonies of Amazons in Asia Minor. 

The Amazon stories may be an attempt to explain small pockets of surviving matrilineal cultures or why some Eurasian Steppes cultures had women warriors and others didnt? 

Not one of his finest hours a dock fight escalating into a city wide riot !

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Ask and you will be given

#gospelmatthew #biblestudy #Greek #newtestamentgreek

The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 7 Verses 7 - 12

Another mostly simple section with no unusual words but note the contrast to imperatives to future passive and the syntax in verses 9 and 10 and the parallelism too! Also note how Matthew uses accusative where other writers might use dative !

Verse 7 note the parallelism
a kind of rhyme prose influenced by Hebrew literature

Ask and to you will be given
Seek and you will find
Knock and it will be opened

verse 8

all for the person who aks he receives
and the seeker finds
and to for the knocker (on a door)  it will be opened

verse 9
or who is of you a man  /  or is there any man of you or even amongst you
whom asks the son of him (for implied by accusative) bread arton
not he a stone gives to him = he does not give him a stone
do not be confused by mee the negative being at the beginning

Parallelism again ! Altered syntax for Rhetorical effect!
You can do this in Greek and still be "grammatical" !

verse 10
or and / also a fish  accusative as object he will ask (for)
not a snake he will give to him ?

rhetorical question and next some irony ?

also note here how asking is linked to giving giving to others
 not just asking for your self?

(by the way folks I'm breaking up the sentences
for the benefit of anyone reading on a small screen
less scrolling across)

verse 11

if therefore you wretched beings know gifts good to give to the children of you
how much more the father of you in the heavens will give good (things) to those who ask him

But this isnt just an invitation to ask for miracles for ourselves or trust in god

the section ends with a reminder we should take action ourselves!

verse 12

all therefore so what/ when / ever you wish
that they would do to you the people
so and you (should) this is a contract verb so this may not be a conditional subjunctive ? or if conditional a condition to be fulfilled)  should do to them

this for is the law and the prophets

do good things for others of you want good things for yourself

Ask and Give !

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Mares of Diomedes

Labors of Heracles - Mares of Diomedes

Drat I couldn't find a good piece of ancient art for this one!

Heracles was next ordered by Eurystheus to bring the Mares of Diomedes the Thracian ruler of the Bistones to him. Now these horses were said to be man eaters or at least wild and dangerous.

This myth goes on to explain or rather claim that a man called Abderos was killed by the horses and that Heracles founded a city named after him.

There was certainly an Ionian colony there much later.

As for whether or not the mares were monsters horses wild or not can turn on humans and bite and kick.

I imagine these horses would indeed react violently if they were only used for breeding never ridden and suddenly lead away by strangers from their stables?

One version of the story mentions Heracles cutting a canal to form a lake to stop Diomedes pursuing him.

There is a lake nearby with a narrow entrance to the sea.

This is an explanation of myths used to explain origins.

The Greeks often used claims of settlements in the Mycenaean era to justify building colonies later though perhaps there could have been some kind of trading post before the Greek city was built?

a note for a reader

+Shaun Thomas-Arnold the browser is being unco-operative !

possibly it willnt let me post a reply cos the original post was last year ?

If you're following the blog thrinax is masculine!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

REVISION TIME The Beatitudes so far

As we are now 2/3 thru the #beatitudes also known as the #SermonontheMount I thought it might be time for some summarizing and revision and feedback.

What have I hopefully demonstrated to you about the importance of knowing some Greek?

Have I shown you why the aorist subjunctive is important in Greek?

Have my notes helped?

Sections I suggest you reread ... well reread the Beatitudes regularly anyway but

Chapter 5 summary 1 to 11  the blessings

21 to 26 anger rage violence avoiding hypocrisy

A general theme thru - out the chapter of avoiding violence and vengeance

Chapter 6

while 5:14 says good works can be seen if that adds to the glory of god we are warned to avoid false piety and what used to be called vainglory.

Chapter 6 is about piety prayer and worship up to 25 and then there's the section on avoiding anxiety

Don't forget to reread and revise as you study the Beatitudes and use a good commentary !

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Heracles and the Cretan Bull

#Heracles and the #CretanBull


The Labours of Heracles 7

You've heard of Theseus and the Minotaur but Theseus wasn't the only Greek hero into bullfighting or ritual acrobatics or men wearing bull marks or whatever  possible historical events or Minoan rituals underlie the story about the Minotaur.

Minos ruler of Crete had a sacred bull allegedly fire breathing which had escaped and was ravaging farms and orchards tearing down fences damaging crops and reaking havoc.

Heracles managed to capture this bull and ship it to the mainland where it was turned loose.

I choose this particular vase painting cos the artists has given some thought to how one would actually catch a wild bull and take it alive without the modern benefits of tranquillizer darts or trained cattle dogs or horses trained to work with you while lassoing an animal. 

The end of the story suggests the mainlanders had better cattle herding skills.

The bull was driven across Greece and ended up in Attica probably siring calves on various herds of cows on the way.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Narrow Gate Matthew 7: 13 - 14

#gospel gospelofmatthew #biblestudy

Matthew Chapter 7 Verses 113 -14

First a literal translation.

Verse 13

into + enter compound verb thru the narrow gate for wide the gate and open the way away+leading compound verb into destruction and many are those who intogo thru it.

Note how Greek uses compound verbs where we might use prepositions in English. I have used OPEN to translate eurukhoora rather than easy because the word means wide open and I choose to stress the contrast between narrow and wide .

Leads the word used  in most English translations omits the sense of diversion of being diverted from the right path of the Greek verb apo+ago.

Verse 14

for narrow the gate and "pressing" the road leading into life
and few they are those who find it.

Greek uses a Perfect Passive participle tethlimmenee from the verb thliboo.

This isnt just press as if you are ironing or opening a door. Its oppressive distressing pressure!

There is legend that this is a reference to a gate at Jerusalem so narrow only one person at a time could use it so there's  humor and irony in this verse as well as a message.

Don't look for the easy path. Don't get diverted onto the wrong way.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Cranes of Stymphalos

This week's #Hercworks is labour 6
#laboursofheracles #heracles #greekmythology #greekmyths

(My apologies this is later than usual having trouble with the wifi on the laptop)


The painter has basically used the myth as an excuse or opportunity to demonstrate his ability to paint birds and the limited color makes the painting more beautiful. 

Greek vase painters used a limited range of colors because many pigments used by painters can not be used for ceramics due to the effect of heat and fire on them. True Glazes despite the use of faience by the Egyptians didn't reach the Mediterranean cultures from the Far East until much later.

The shine of the black part is burnished clay slip.

Now back to the myth.

There is still a lake in Arcadia by this name today. 

In ancient times there was a small city many religious shrines to Artemis and wetlands near the Lake. 

 A group of birds described as cranes migrated and settled there. 
These birds were said to have had razor sharp beaks and feathers and poisonous dung. Apparently none of the local farmers they were plaguing had archery skills at least not on the level of Heracles. Or the birds had the sense to hide deep in the marshes? 

Heracles used a rattle to startle them so he could shoot them. 

Some writers claim the "cranes" were actually fever demons.

However large birds despite their fragile appearance can be quite strong and a  swan can break a man's arm with its wings.

I suspect the farmers tried to drive the birds away from their fields and out of the wetlands but the birds defended their nesting sites so they had to call the Mycenaean age's leading pest control expert  HERACLES !

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Active and Actions Matthew 7 7 - 12

#gospel Matthew Chapter 7 #bible study

This is one of those sections that some translators tend to makeover into English thats maybe a bit too modern. Why?

Read on and there's a lovely ethics zinger at the end.
A very famous verse.

Literal translation with notes inserted in brackets

verse 7

Ask and it will be given(Future passive to you
(Greek often uses passive  and future where English uses Active voice)
Seek and you will find
Knock and it will be opened (Another future passive)  to you.

verse 8

all for he who is asking receives
all pas and a participle makes more sense in Greek so it has to be changed !
The sense of each person who asks as an individual but there is no equivalent to everyone in Greek ... well no ACTUAL equivalent pas panta can be all or every.
and the one who is seeking finds
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Some people think Jesus was being very Zen like and referring to enlightenment but this verse seems ot be just as much as prayers and answers?

Most importantly given the end of the passage about TAKING ACTION.

Verse 9

or what (Man / person) is of you (the group listening an appeal to both the group as a whole and individuals) if should ask the son his for bread  not a stone he will give to him (instead)?

Good practical necessities are asked for. Dont repay evil for good is a theme that appears elsewhere.

Verse 10

and if a fish he should ask for not a serpent will he give him?

Verse 11

if therefore you evil being know gifts good to give to the children of you
how much more the father who in heaven (is) will give good things to them asking him?

Now the closer or the zinger that ties it all together!

Verse 12

All things therefore whatever you wish  that people should be done to you
 likewise so and you do to them.

this for is the law and the prophets!

Note prophets as teachers not prophecies !

Do good things to others human or divine if you want good things to happen to you ... treat people right  do unto others as an older translation puts it

Spiritual grace and insight and pracitcla necessities can be sought and prayed for but acts of faith must be balance by ACTION "random acts of kindness" or foreplanned charity .... whatever but the right thing is to do good!

And keep on doing it!

The Beatitudes Verses have so much we can learn from!

Mid week back to the Labours of Heracles !

If you have just discovered Metousia.
Sundays I comment on the Greek New Testament.
Midweek on Classical Greek  culture.

Do visit and share some of my prior posts!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


The Stables of #Augeias
The #Labors of #Heracles 5

Apparent ancient Roman and Greek artists didn't find cleaning out stables an inspiring subject. I did manage  find one image.  This is an example of a type of Roman mosaic using what we might call a "Stick image"  that depicts Heracles digging through rock. We know it is meant to depict the Augeian Stable Labor since similar iamges often appear as part of a sequence depicting all 12 labors.

AUGEIAS was the King of Elis in the NW Peloponnese region of Greece.

Elis is spelt with a LONG E in Classical Greece. EELIS.

Now Heracles offered to clear Augeias cattle yards of dung in ONE DAY and the  story claims these yards hadn't been cleared since they were first built. 

Cow manure makes great fertilizer but perhaps Augeias refused to share his supply with his people which may be another reason Heracles got involved. 

The location of these cattle  yards may have been in an area now covered by a dam where two rivers join the Peneios and Ladon as there was a Mycenaean settlement on the nearby hill of Armatova near Agraidhokhori thought to have been ELEAN PYLOS. 

Nestors PYLOS was in Messene further south. 

Heracles succeeded in doing this in one day by diverting the waters of two rivers thru walls he smashed though the depiction in Roman art of him digging suggests to me a more prosaic form of the story in which he made use of existing irrigation channels to direct those river waters into the yards. 

I suspect farmers further  downstream were probably extremely pleased to get their fields fertilized for free?

Sunday, 19 October 2014


#gospelofmatthew #bible study

Gospel of Matthew Ch 7 Verse 6

People tend to cite the middle of this verse and ignore the rest.

Literal translation

Not give (aor subj)  the holy to the dogs.
Nor throw (aor subj again) pearls yours in front of the the swine
lest they tread down  / trample katapateoo  upon them in the feet of them
and having turned around  strephomai aor part they rend (another aor subj) you.

note this verse is not just about pigs seen as unclean animals.

While the Jews didn't eat pork they may have farmed pigs for the bristles and leather from their hides or seen local Greek colonists farming pigs or had wild pigs coming down form the highlands and forests  wandering the area eating waste.

This verse isnt just about waste but about avoiding danger?

I wonder if Jesus was referring to some local recent event during which someone was silly enuff in Galilee to actually throw low grade pearls into a pig sty to demonstrate how pigs will eat anything and the pigs being intelligent animals got really offended.

Note the use of en as a dative agent ... the pearls were crushed  into the pigs "feet" which are very sensitive probably irritating them so enraged they turned on the human attacking them?

Perhaps we could also read this as not only  don't waste but do feed or offer people the correct food or don't try to test and fool people so they don't get angered by your extravagance and turn on you?

Thursday, 16 October 2014


The Labours of #Heracles
The Boar of #erymanthios

Erymanthios is a real mountain in the NW Peloponnese and its lower slopes did have Mid Helladic and Mycenaean settlements and those fertile slopes and farms were once ravaged by a enormous wild boar.

Heracles was ordered to bring the beast back alive not just kill it.

Now this wily porcine know all the hiding places and thickets and it was winter when Heracles finally cornered the beast forcing it into a deep drift of snow so he could could snare it and tie and bind it and carry it back to Mycenae.

His unfortunate cousin Eurystheus was so horrified he was said to have hidden himself inside a pithos or a bronze urn and refused to face him though the vase painter seems to have preferred a version of the story in which Heracles confronts him.

Perhaps this is a scene from an Attic satyr play?

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Matthew 7: 3-5

#gospel #biblestudy #matthew #beatitudes

Matthew Chapter 7 Verses 3 -5

Here's a word for word translation of the Greek.

why you look at the mote the object in the eye of the brother of you the but in the of you eye beam / log not percieve / notice.

how you will say to the brother of you
Let me cast out the mote from the eye of you

Behold the beam in the the eye of you
Hypocrite cast out first the beam out of the eye of you

and then you will clearly to cast out the mote out of the eye of the brother of you.

Nows what noteworthy in the greek that differs from the English and can add to your insight without removing wood be it dust or huge chunks!

Mote is karphos something small wooden and dry splinters chaff sawdust

Dokos by contrast is a log or plank a large length of timber used as a roof support or bar or shaft.

Many translations say look or see but the verb is katanoew perceive notice understand THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SEEING  thoughtful observation?

Verse 4 seems to contain a quote? Perhaps from another preacher regarded as a hypocrite by some?

Was some one talking about spiritual blindness or comparing sin to dust ?

Note also that every form of ekballoo cast out / throw away  in these verses is spelt with a single L which means they are AORIST!

Finally we have another form of Blephoo see look but with dia added.

This gets translated as see clearly in English but can also mean to look through something or focus and give special attention while looking.

I hope these notes have added to your understanding and pleasure while studying the Beatitudes!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Labors of Heracles 3 - the Ceryneian Hind

One of the lesser known labors of #Heracles is that of the #CeryneianHind.

The Hind of Ceryneia was sacred to Artemis with golden horns and hooves of bronze and could not be hunted by ordinary men.

Possibly it was just some priestess' spoilt pet helping itself to local crops and gardens and just making a general nuisance of itself damaging gardens however it be have been sacred for other reasons too!

Legend and some historians speak of "Hyperboreans" visiting the shrines of Greece particularly Delphi following the Amber trade route.

Perhaps this deer was a reindeer hence its special status.

Now Ceryneia was the name of both a settlement and a river now called the Vouraikos, and this river that flows through a narrow gorge which is now notable for a scenic railway called the Kalavrita.

Due to the local geology the valley is broader up near Kalavrita and narrows to a gorge before reaching the narrows coastal plain.

Deer raiding gardens and farms near could have retreated into the safety of the narrow gorge and hidden in forested slopes difficult for even the most skilled hunters to access.

Heracles has said to have taken a year to catch the beast which may seem odd to modern hunters but remember he had to catch it alive to avoid offending the goddess or breaking a taboo.  Also no infra red scope!

I can also see some one saying
"How can we avoid breaching the taboo on that pesky deer?
Oh hey that Guy over at Mycenae whats his name Heracles the one already working off a curse ..."

Some versions claim Eurysthenes was going to add the deer to his private collection but Heracles either arranged its escape or first returned it to his half sister depending on which author you read.

The vase painting I selected shows Heracles between Athena and Artemis.

He is shown breaking off a horn so perhaps there is a lost variant of the story in which he does that?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Judge NOT Matthew 7 : 1-2

are the opening words of #matthew #gospel 7:1-2
#biblestudy #jesus

Krinoo the verb which appears 4 times in these 2 verses is a cognate of latin Cerno

So  Not you plural judge so that or in order that as a consequence or result cos the secondary clause has a subjunctive verb form

Judge not lest you are judged!

For by the judgements you make you will be judged!

And in what measure you made you will be judged in turn.

Note Anti as a prefix appears in  Greek and its not just meaning against but in response the payback or balance of one action leading to another.

He's not saying to not judge  but to bear in mind as we may make decisions and judgements about others like judgement is made about us.

This leads in to the next passage which makes it clear he's talking about human sins and how humans judge each other in an unbalanced way.

One of the symbol for justice are scales for a good reason and perhaps while visiting one of the Greek cities in the area Jesus had seen a depiction of blind Justice holding scales?

krima krimati is a cognate of Latin crimen but means judgement not crime.

Metreoo is a contract verb related to metrov measure.

Next week Spots and Blocks!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Labours of Heracles Two - The Hydra of Lerna

#Heracles and the #Hydra of #Lerna

I have written about this before but that post focused more on Lerna as a whole.

Although artists and poets disagree about the number of heads the Hydra is described consistently as multiple heads that were snake like and a thick trunk and the ability to grow back any head that was removed and as being amphibious. 

The word Hydra means Water serpent.

The creature was said to have out of the wetlands adjacent to Lake Lerna which has now silted up and become farmland and made a lair near the source of a sacred river or the springs from which streams flowed that converged into a river. These have also disappeared apart from one last small pond. 

In ancient times Lerna south of the lake was an area of springs and several shrines and cults. Settlement here dates back to the Helladic and this is the location of the famous House of Tiles. 

This site is south of the modern village of Myloi the Mills.

Now notice that like the Hydra the river had MULTIPLE SOURCES.

While the Hydra could have been one creature Heracles was also famous of opening springs diverting rivers building walls ... he was some sort of engineer.

How does Heracles defeat the Hydra?  He cuts off and then burns the stumps of the heads and one head is buried under a rock? 

The stumps are burnt with wooden brands!

Now charcoal is used as a water filter and several writers have suggested the Hydra was a nick name for malaria. 

If heracles had been fighting a malaria outbreak he would tried to divert the waters away from the wetlands maybe by opening an extra channel to the sea. 

Instead he fights the Hydra near the source of springs.

I'm thinking somehow one or more of  the springs became contaminated with a virus or bacteria and cutting off the heads is a metaphor for having to cut off the springs and block one source ... the head under a rock ?

Perhaps he had to temporarily block each source to work out which one was contaminated and then permanently block that one? 

Or there was an infestation of snakes and he burnt down grasslands and shrubs around the springs? 

Or even both with the snakes mistakenly being thought the source of a plague of some sort? 

however whether the Hydra was a supernatural monster a plague or too many snakes Heracles acted to help commoners by ending its attacks.

It also inspired this famous Italian Renaissance painting.

 I hope you enjoyed the vase painting images I found. You can Google Earth Lerna and see the last remaining spring. Enjoy!

Next Time Over hill and dale. Heracles hunts a sacred deer or reindeer? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

More on Matthew 6: 25 - 34 Body and Soul

#biblestudy #gospel #beatitudes

This is  a beautiful passage of powerful prose in in any language!

I'm going to do a loose paraphrase and break up the sentences to show you the parallelism in the greek text and shorten the lines so it works better for those of you using a phone app to read this?

First a note on psyche lie in verse 24  is psykhe not zoee probably to strengthen the parallelism yet contrast between spiritual and physical needs.

Causal marker dia
this I say to you
not be worried for the life of you
(about implied by dative)
what you eat and what you drink
nor for = in regard to the body what you put on / wear.

Not the life / soul more is
( than used in English cos its a comparision)
of the food and the body (more than) of the wearing?
(the clothes you wear)

Look at the birds of heaven
that they not sow  nor harvest nor gather into storage
and the father of you in heaven feeds them!

Not you much  different  are from them?

which and of you while worrying is able to add upon his stature / adult size and shape cubit one?

and about clothes why are you worrying?

observe / learn from the lilies of the field how they increase / grow

no they  toil nor they spin

I say then to you that
not Solomon in all the glory of him was clothed like one of them

if then the grass of the field today being
and tomorrow into an oven is thrown
the god so arranges
not many much more for you (do) little faith ones ?

not therefore be concerned saying
what shall we eat ?
or What shall we drink?
or What will we wear?

All for these things the nations / pagans seek after

knows for the father of you the heavenly
that you use / need od these thing all.

Seek then first the realm of god and the righteousness of him
and these things all shall be added / placed use provided ? to you

Not therefore worry into = about ? the next day
for the next day will be anxious about itself

(ironic personification?)

Sufficient / enough to the day the evil of it.

I help that breakdown shows you something about the syntax of the Greek?

Notice how you change to use different prepositions in English because a preposition can change meaning in Greek depending on what case the adjective and noun are!

Now go back and enjoy reading the whole passage in Greek or English!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Labors of Heracles ONE The Nemean Lion

The Legend of #Heracles

Apollodorus Hesiod Pindar and many others mention him.

Like Arthur perhaps a real historical person underlies the myths and legends and worship that have centered around this character over the centuries.

There are dozens of stories associated with Heracles but I'm going to focus on the 12 labors and look also at geographical and historical aspects. What they possibly tell us about Mycenaean society at its peak?

Heracles was a descendant of Perseus allegedly a son of Zeus and had a twin brother.

There were several legends about royal twins with claims of one being divine and the other human. Possibly this means one twin the older of a fraternal pair was placed under the special protection of a god. Curiously there is little  mention of female twins?

Most of the stories agree Heracles killed or captured monsters and wild animals who were dangerous to humans and that he fathered a great many children in and outside of his marriages however one aspect overlooked is that he was also a civil works engineer building wells drainage canals fountains for natural springs roads and city walls. He seems to have been seen as a defender of commoners despite his being prone to fits of rage since most of the victims of those psychotic moments were other aristocrats . Possibly he was bipolar which may explain why the Greeks thought his madness was inflicted on him by the gods given the cyclical nature of that illness?


His first official Labor was that of the killing of the nemean Lion a maneater attacking people in the area around Nemea.

I wonder if the last of the Greek lions were possibly cave lions or a different sub species from those of Africa. They are never recorded as living in packs.

Ancient Nemea is near Ayios Yeorgios between Mycenae and Corinth on a plateau and was also the site of the Nemean games and a temple to Zeus.

That temple and the site of the games overlies a Helladic settlement and the cave said to be that of the Lion was the site of discovery of  Neolithic artifacts.

Now this lion it is claimed had an inpenetratable skin that no blade could cut.

At first Heracles is said to have tried to use a sword or spear down its throat then he clubbed it and throttled it choking it to death and using the lions own razor sharp claws to skin the beast and then wearing its head and hide to protect himself.

Despite Greek artists using this as an excuse to depict heracles semi naked I seriouslt doubt whatever species of beast of monster the Nemean lion was that heracles fought him stark naked. 

I note here that Maasai warriors and white hunters try for a frontal chest thrust or shot. Heracles seems to have tried every known method and given his wrestling training and exceptional strength perhaps he really did strangle a lion?

This was the first of 12 labors. 

Next time the Hind with the Golden Horns !

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

mee merinate no anxiety

#biblestudy #beatitudes  #gospelofmatthew 

Matthew 6 : 25 - 34 is a long paragraph about faith and anxiety.

I'm going to intro it by talking about the main verb in the passage.


appears several times in present and participle and aorist subjunctive and future forms 

Now the reason I am giving special attention to just one word is because it can be translated several ways as be anxious fret worry be concerned care about.

Look at what it is a compound of !

meri - part portion divide of and the *mn stem that appears in many other words nouns and verbs that describe memory mind and consciousness.

So if you merimnate you have a divided mind your focus is scattered often in a negative way? 

Its not just severe neurotic anxiety of the type that might need some therapy and drugs combined or simple fretting but the whole range the manner of concern and focus? 

Something to consider as you read that passage. 

Most of the rest of the passage has no words that need special notes but I willl comment on a couple of aspects next sunday. 

Do read the whole passage! 

A medical note: if any readers have severe anxiety problems it is not a sin to get professional help! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Serving God and Mammon

Serving #God and #Mammon
#Gospel #biblestudy #Beatitudes

Matthew 6: 24 - 25

word for word translation

no-one is able 2 masters to serve

notes dative follows dunamai hence duo becomes dusi

either for the one s/he will hate
and the other will love

note the use of the future other is hetero -
miseoo hate source of miso-

or one s/he will hold fast to and the other despise

anthekhsetai is the future middle of antekhomai
this verb changed meaning in NT koine Greek

it is still anti so literally against hold but against the same way we may say in English I am going to hold a tissue up against to my face or lips

katephroneesei look down on think of with disdain despise

not you can be able to / for god serve and  mamon

a note on ma(m)on this is a loan word from Aramaic.

It means money wealth property

regardless of what some commentaries state there is no evidence for Mammon being a Semitic God or a demon. The personification here is rhetorical.

We have to chose which to serve and love God or Money.

Try not to mistake one for the other!

Sunday, 7 September 2014



So lets look at the relevant Greek numbers!

200 in Greek is δια – κόσι – οι / αι / α

and 200TH is διακοσιοστός

100 however is ἑκατόν

Numbers between 200 and 1000 will have κόσι in the middle.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Light and the Dark

#Matthew 6. 22 - 23 #bible study #greek #whatjesussaid

see also #Luke 11. 33 - 36

word for word translation

the lamp of the body is the eye
if therefore is (note subjunctive / conditional ) the eye of you open/ sincere/ simple (2nd declension adjective with multiple meanings) whole the body of you bright /shining will be.

if but the eye of you evil is whole the body of you dark will be.
if therefore the light to you dark is the dark how much !?

Note the parallelism and the subjunctives.

Lamp often gets translates as Light but the greek is luknos!

Here is the ancient concept of the eye being a gate or link to the soul.

I think however given the subjunctives our Lord is talking as much about spiritual as physical perception. Letting in the light? He is not linking physical disability to sin as a cause or effect!

This is light as an energizing force as much spiritual as physical?

Think of those verses in which he or others spoke of the Light of the World?

A note for fellow Whovians.  Last week the Doctor spoke of never seeing paradise and this week he's into the darkness! We joke What would the Doctor do?

It would seem this season our favorite Gallifreyan is seeking redemption and healing for himself and others.

We don't need a Tardis for that and have a Companion and Friend to call on for help!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Heracles and Athena An Image

with the new Heracles movie coming soon I thought for my middle week post I might look at some images of Heracles. Here's the son of Zeus and his half sister.

Notice he's not the pumped up wrestler of later Hellenistic and Roman art but more svelte! That lion skin is suppose to act as armor as the Nemean lion allegedly had a hide so thick Heracles had to spear or stab it down its throat to kill it.

MMM no one ever dares suggest Mycenaean  aristos may have been such lousy hunters they celebrated lion hunts cos they weren't very good at catching them?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Iatros Tis


#DoctorWho Premiere Today!

Whats this got to do with #Greek?

Yeah I know Sunday is normally a bible study in the  Greek NT relate dpost however I'm working my way  thru Clarke's book on Matthew.

No I'm NOT about to suggest the Dr should be compared to JC!

What I am going to say is that don't let anyone tell you its a sin to enjoy SF&F.

Appreciate the Classics Ancient or Modern Secular or Spiritual

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Where's your Treasure?

#Gospel of Matthew 6: 19 - 21.

Where's Your Treasure ?

Word for word translation

not make treasure for you plural treasures upon the earth
where moth and corrosion / rust "eating" spoil
and where thieves dig through and steal
make treasure and / but for you plural treasures in heaven
where neither moth nor rust spoil
and where thieves not dig through nor steal
where for is the treasure of you
there will be and / also the heart of you.

Why did I type make treasure ?
the greek verb has a izoo suffix  its theesaurizoo

note also what digging through means ... many of the people listening would have had homes made of sun dried brick or stucco or clay over a wooden frame or stone loosely packed

for them no gold just coins of metal that might tarnish or a valuable item might be a chest full of high quality linen or wool or an embroidered festival robe

again consider making treasure

we attribute value to various material objects  but we need to invest in spiritual treasures as well ?!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Jesus on Fasting

Matthew 6: 16 - 18

#Jesus on #Fasting #Biblestudy #greeknewtestament #gospel

Neesteuoo fast or abstain

Judging from the pair of verses here jesus is talking from ritual fasting perhaps for funerals?

Word for word

whenever and you plural are fasting not become like the hypocrites adjective sullen angry sad faces they hide for the faces of them so that they appear / are obviously to humans / people to be fasting.

So do not "make a song and dance" of fasting.

Note the use of ginesthe in Greek this verb ginomai  in late greek seems to be used in a way that overlaps or replaces more classical poieoo or prassoo. Its like the English usage of do particularly here.

Do not become / be / act like / behave like ...

Notice how Jesus focuses on actions ? !

skuthroopoi to look sullen angry sad resentful

aphanizoo may refer to covering one's face making it unseen unclear by covering it with ashes or dirt or letting your face hang loose

In verse 17 Jesus asks us to instead when fasting to do it in private

you and when fasting anoint of you the head and the face of you wash ...

if you're doing it for god and not appearances sake  then god will see !

notice the emphasis and contrast once again between public and private rituals and behaviour a theme throughout this chapter.

What are modern parallels?

Perhaps the person who insists on telling everyone about their new "healthy" diet or the vegetarian or vegan who thinks dieting makes them spiritually or ethically superior?

You don't fast to be superior or get praised?

Yes you can encourage people to try a limited fast for health reasons but don't make a performance of it!

Finally and off topic don't forget to pray for peace and healing for everyone in gaza israel iraq or syria Christian Muslim Yazidi or Jew !

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hallowed be your name

I'v been thinking about Matthew 6: 9


   Hallowed be holy.  Hagiasthoo. Make Sacred.

Its a command to respect and KEEP on respecting the Holy Name.

the stem of this *Hag is related distantly to English AWE which was spelt in a g in the Middle Ages and Gothic has a word agis. Note also Latin Sacer *SAK.

So the Divine is awesome! We know that or should? How do we show it?

Ritual Prayer Forgiveness of others Action COMPASSION

Remember jesus ends this section after moving onto the topic of fasting by reminding us about forgiveness an ACTION?

At the VERY least try to refrain from any outbreaks of obscenity or oath taking and breaking that "Disses" the Holy Name?

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Pray for peace

#blessedarethepeacemakers #pray for peace #gaza #israel #syria #ukraine

Yes I blogged on this verse before but given this week's events we all need the reminder.

Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 9

Blessed are the peacemakers

μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοὶ

Not the online warriors and hatemongers endlessly apologizing or justifying violence.

Spare a thought and prayers for paramedics doctors patients nurse parents and civilians in war zones!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Greek Verb Key One


μαι σαι ται



For most verbs

Μαι becomes ω or plural μεν or μεθα

S becomes ες or Vowel plus ς or ς to τ
so we have ετε or εται in plurals

T becomes ε or ον or plural ονται or ουσι(ν)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Greek AORIST IMPERATIVE a useful link

One of the reasons you should be aware  of when Greek is using the Aorist Imperative or Subjunctive is that Aorist Imperative means its a one and only action to be completed.

You don't have to to take my word only for it.

Check out this site

You might want to also  check out the TEXTKIT site and do a general Google search?

No new translation this week!

I need to catch up on prepping new material for next week!

Saturday, 12 July 2014


HOW TO PRAY like THIS according to 

Matthew 6: 9 - 13

So like this you pray

father ours who in the heavens (is)
make holy the name you
let come the realm of you
let become the will of you
as in the heaven and (also) upon earth

the bread for us necessary for this day give to us this day
and let go release us the debts of us
as and we release the debts of those who owe us
and not lead us into testing
but deliver us away from evil /wretchedness/being in a bad condition / place.

Note again the AORIST IMPERATIVES a verb form we don't have in ENGLISH!

We are not merely wishing or approving but asking that God's name be made holy,
that the realm of god comes, let the divine will happen,
that we have our daily essential needs, NOT luxuries,
and that if we want our debt of sin forgiven we likewise must forgive others.

This is further emphasized by verse 14.
The word used for sin is literally a falling or flying away!

Sin separates us from the Divine. Forgiveness is an action.
But not just our sins others too.
We must be concerned about others not just ourselves.

Don't bargain with God, pray for what is right and good to happen?

A short note on formatting. Since I don't know if you're reading this on a desktop monitor, a laptop, a PC Windows tablet, an Ipad or mobile. I sometimes move long clauses and sentences onto new lines. I hope that helps if you have a small screen?  

There are things that help apart from prayer.

My budget and savings account are covering the food and utility bills so far but I'm between jobs at the amount so a little support would be appreciated. If you're doing better than me money wise and have found any of the info or insights into Greek in this blog helpful ... paypal tip jar top right ? It would be both good and helpful if I finally earned enuff from Adsense or Paypal to least cover my wifi broadband costs ? 

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd motif seems to be another borrowed from pagan art and adapted for Early Christian use.

While Hermes is usually shown as a herald or messenger he is also sometimes depicted carrying rams or sheep. Remember he was originally Arcadian?

Here's a Roman era painting from a CHRISTIAN TOMB.

We have to acknowledge our classical heritage.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


(running a bit late with this post sorry!) 

Stammer speak

Matthew 6: 7-8

This is another of those verses of which EVERY translation differs.

Here's a word for word translation:

(when or while cos present participle) Praying and not STAMMERSPEAK (N.B. Aor. Subj.)
like the pagans they seem to think for that in a manyword of them they will be heeded.

Not therefore make similar to them

knows for the father of yours what need you have before of the (need?) you to ask him.

This verse is often used to criticize the devotional practise of repeated prayers and mantras and similar spiritual tools by Catholics Hindus Orthodox and Buddhist. More about that in a moment.

When praying do not stammerspeak. This usually gets translated as empty prayers or vain repetitions as the KJV phrases it but the verb literally means stammerspeak!

We know from Aristophanes and Attic dramas that invocations of gods included repeting names and syllables. Io! Io! Etc.Why say stammer speak? Was it a popular insult directed towards Pagans by Jews of that time?

Were some jews using prayers that involved repeating epiphets of the divine?

Perhaps the point is not simply that repetitions are wrong but meaningless repetitions.

The Jesus Prayer devotional practise involving repeating one short prayer over and over again and has been discouraged by some writers and lauded by others.

The point of such repetitions is not to earn karma or reduce anxiety or reach a meditative state but to achieve communion with the Divine by placing yourself in a receptive state. But if you don't really focus on the divine on the intent of your prayer it can become merely a kind of autohypnosis.

Jesus next saids like the nations the ethnikoi the pagans and note he uses eisakouoo not just hear but listen or hearken … they seem to think dokeoo they fut pass form they will be heeded … greek in manywords perhaps should be by speaking many words over and over again.

The repetitions become an error if you think the repetition is more important than the purpose.

Do not make yourself like them. Or pray because you need something?

God knows your needs before you ask. A relationship with the Divine like many human relationships should not be based solely on need.

The next section is the Lord's prayer and we'll leave that for next week!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

More on the History of Halos From Sun God to Saviour.

I've show you on a previous post images that suggest rayed halos derive from Hellenistic art. There is one depiction of Apollo in a Roman mosaic from North Africa that is similar though to the cross halo found in later Byzantine art.

Note there are seven rays within a flat circle.
 I suspect the use by romans of circles to outline images within mosaics may have contributed to the development of halos.

Now some Byzantine mosaics show Christ with a halo with 3 rays but these date to several centuries later so it is possible they are an independent development?

Here's one of them from the Hagia Sophia :

So rayed halos worn by Hellenistic Sun gods and Kings ! (See prior post)

But how direct was the influence on Christian and Byzantine art?

The earliest depictions of Christ usually use the Good Shepherd image but there is this Roman wall painting ...

Its as much a circle as a halo and may have been used more to emphasize that this figure is Christ?

Finally a classic 4th century Byzantine mosaic :

By the way this one was "restored" in the 19th century so possibly the  colors have been altered.

My point is Christian halos differ from Pagan solar halos and while those artists probably saw pagan sun god images the earliest halos was more usually flat.
Those rayed halos you see in Rocco and Baroque devotional art?
A much later borrowing!

There is a continuum from pagan to byzantine art but its one of continuous development inspired by classical ideas to create new forms.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Jesus on Prayer Part One Keep it in your room!

Matthew 6: 5- 6

(I'll be commenting in that whole section on prayer over several posts)

first the word for word word translation from the UBS Greek text

and when(ever) you pray, not will be (esesthe from esomai) like the hypocrites,
that love on the syngogues and in the corners of the streets ( plateia wide broad main streets)
standing (note perfect participle of histeemi) to pray (infinitive)
so that they should be seen by all people (phavoosin Aorist Subjunctive of phainoo)
Note Phainoo not just be seen but be conspicious !
Truly I say to you, they receive their reward.

You and (note the de links this to the sentence with kai) whenever you pray go into your room
(a tameion is basically an enclosed space it could be a closet store room bedroom or any room with a door that closes it off) and having closed the door of yours pray to the father of you in secret. And the father of you who is seeing in the secret gives to you.

There are several forms of the verb προσεύχομαι in this passage to note.

Another aspect is the emphasis on privacy?

Is public prayer a good idea? Is private prayer better?

Some believe public prayer as a form of protest or to open a ceremony is valid but perhaps the issue here is purpose? Again a reminder not to vaunt righteousness?

Middle week I continue my series on Iconography and the relationship of pagan to Christian art.

Next weekend repetition of prayers when is it a valid practice?