September 2, 2008

Worshipers of Athena meet on the Acropolis

Posted at 1:00 pm in Acropolis, British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

More on the Ellinais followers ceremony on the Acropolis – again including incidental coverage of the New Acropolis Museum.

International Herald Tribune

Ancient religion believers pray to Athena
The Associated Press
Published: August 31, 2008

ATHENS, Greece: Practitioners of the ancient Greek religion gathered among the ruined temples at the Acropolis Sunday, praying to Athena to stop the removal of sculptures and pieces of the temples to museums.

Participants claimed it was the first such gathering since the ancient religion was officially abolished late in the 4th century.

“We believe that the structural elements of a temple should not be moved and we worry about the consequences,” said high priestess Doretta Peppa.

Peppa’s Athens-based group — called Ellinais, an acronym in Greek for “Sacred Society of Greek Ancient Religionists” — is campaigning to revive the ancient religion. The group has defied Culture Ministry bans on holding prayers at several ancient temples.

On Sunday, about 200 people, by Peppa’s estimate, prayed to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patron of ancient Athens, to protect the 2,500-year-old site and spare the city from harm.

“Is it a coincidence that rain started falling when the ceremony started and ended at the same time as the ceremony? I think not,” Peppa said.

Police made no effort to disrupt the 20-minute ceremony.

Last year, the government moved hundreds of sculptures from a tiny museum on the Acropolis to a €129 million (US$190 million) new museum below the citadel. In a statement, Ellinais described the new glass and concrete structure as “an incredible architectural monstrosity that insults (Greece’s) cultural heritage.”

The building is where Greece hopes one day to display the Elgin Marbles alongside the other Parthenon sculptures. Greek officials have said the new museum will open next month, displaying some 4,000 artifacts.

The Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the 19th century. The British Museum has rejected Greek calls to return them.

Polytheists like Peppa believe that monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam have as their god an authority figure who is too remote from humanity and nature.

Orthodox Christianity is the official religion of Greece. Peppa said officials have harassed believers in the Olympian gods.

“People have had difficulties with their jobs,” she said.

Christianity took hold in Greece in the 4th century. Roman Emperor Theodosius wiped out the last vestige of the Olympian gods when he abolished the Olympic Games in 394 A.D.

The Parthenon, built between 447-432 B.C. at the Acropolis as a temple to Athena, was converted into a Christian church in the 5th century A.D. It became a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Athens in 1456 and is now a museum.

“This was the first prayer ceremony on the Acropolis since Parthenon was converted into a church,” Peppa said.

Bloomberg News

New Acropolis Museum Prompts Greek Pagan Service at Parthenon
By Maria Petrakis

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — A group of worshippers of ancient Greek gods held the first service at the Parthenon temple in more than a millennium, prompted by the removal of statues on the site to a new museum.

About a dozen worshippers sang hymns to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and ancient patron of Athens, to avert evil as they faced the 2,500 year-old Parthenon temple. The Parthenon was built in the 5th century B.C. to worship Athena.

“Not one ruler has removed the sculptures from the Parthenon over the centuries,” Yannis Kontopidis, vice- president of Ellinais, a group campaigning to revive the worship of ancient Greek gods. “Moving these sculptures to a museum that is foreign and hostile to the Greek environment is like breaking up a family.”

Greece moved sculptures from the Acropolis last year to install them in the glass-and-concrete New Acropolis Museum, built to convince the British Museum to return sculptures from the Parthenon that it holds. Designed by Swiss-born architect Bernard Tschumi and Greece’s Michael Photiadis, the museum is scheduled to open this year.

Ellinais has defied Greek government bans to hold prayers at several ancient temples. The Parthenon was converted into a Christian church in the 6th century A.D. and into a mosque under the Ottoman Empire in the 1460s.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens
Last Updated: August 31, 2008 13:32 EDT

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  1. Mike Dunchok said,

    01.02.10 at 7:03 pm

    It brings tears to my eyes to hear that people are again praying to the Goddess in Her Temple.

  2. Johnnie said,

    05.19.16 at 10:13 am

    The Olympian gods have made animal people and things like goat people sheep people griffins, to see real photos go to Creation truth on pinterest, mystery or not, for more information go to Creation truth zazzle, this is the end of the Era of man and woman, the gods are returning!!!

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