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Creating a calendar

Post  DavidMcCann on Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:50 pm

I've recently (and belatedly) been considering the question of the calendar. I thought I'd share my thoughts and see what others think.

One problem with the Athenian calendar is that the agricultural festivals are wrongly placed: they cut the grain in June, Britain does it in August. Another is the lack of balance: some gods get a lot of festivals, others none which we know of. Like Plato in his Laws, I want a month for every Olympian, plus one for Hades and Persephone.

It also feels odd to start the year in midsummer. For the Greeks this was convenient, as it fell after the harvest, but even there it was not universal: the Theban year started at midwinter, the Miletan in the spring, the Rhodian in the autumn. I opted for a midwinter start, as more familiar.

Even if I don't want to follow the Athenian calendar in full, I still like the idea of celebrating the major festivals at the same time as other worshipers in Greece and elsewhere. My months will always correspond to the same Athenian ones, since their thirteenth month (a repeated sixth) corresponds to mine (a repeated twelfth). Eight months are therefore based on the Athenian ones: the names given are my own and the Athenian.

1:  Gamelios = Gamelion (Theogamia — Zeus & Hera)
2:  Koreios = Anthesterion (Anthesteria — the dead, hence Persephone & Hades)
3:  Dionysios = Elaphebolion (Greater Dionysia)
4:  Artemisios = Mounychion (Mounykhia)
5:  Hermaios = Thargelion (Boukoklepteia)
7:  Athenaios = Hekatombaion (Panathenaia)
10: Apollonios = Pyanepsion (Pyanepsia)
12: Poseidonios = Poseideon (Poseidea)

That left me with four gods and four months to match up, which I did thus:
6:  Aphrodisios = Skirophorion (roses in bloom)
8:  Hephaistios = Metageitnion (Roman festival of Vulcan)
9:  Demetrios = Boedromion (English harvest festival)
11: Areios = Maimakterion (Delian calendar)

But what of the thirteenth month? An urgent question, as we have one starting on the evening of 23 December. I have been thinking of making it Heroios, dedicated to all heroes, or Didaskalios, dedicated to teachers like Plato.

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Re: Creating a calendar

Post  Erodius on Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:17 pm

It seems a perfectly functional localized application of the Attic calendar. 

Orphism follows a zodiacal calendar, with the year beginning in late September. Many contemporary Greeks follow some form of it. Each month is dedicated to a particular deity, and, in addition to semi-fixed observances like the Theogamia, Anthesteria, Thargelia, Carnia and Pyanepsia (among a few others) the incipit of each month is treated often as a particular festival of the regnant deity of the month. 

Ζυγός- Ἥφαιστος / Ἑστία
Σκορπιός- Ἄρης
Τοξότης- Ἄρτεμις
Αἰγόκερως- Ἑστία / Ἠφαιστος
Ὑδρόχοος- Ἥρα
Ἰχθύες- Ποσειδῶν
Κριός- Ἀθηνή 
Ταύρος- Ἀφροδίτη
Δίδυμοι- Ἀπόλλων (& Ἄρτεμις)
Κάρκινος- Ἑρμής
Λέων- Ζεύς
Σταχύς- Δημήτηρ

But it is not a lunar calendar, although movable festivals are often reckoned  by the full or new moon in some way, while fixed festivals are fixed on particular dates of the astrological months. It has the benefit of being fairly easily convertible to Gregorian dates (as the months do not move, as in a lunar calendar), but, conversely, it isn't a lunar calendar, and so is not especially compatible if you are trying to reckon largely lunar-based dates

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
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Re: Creating a calendar

Post  DavidMcCann on Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:26 pm

Erodius wrote:Orphism follows a zodiacal calendar, with the year beginning in late September.
That feels very odd to me! Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, as well as modern Chinese and Hindus, have always used a solilunar system: ignoring the Moon just doesn't seem right. But, as the old saying goes, if we all liked the same thing there'd be a terrible shortage of haggis.

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Re: Creating a calendar

Post  Erodius on Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:19 pm

I imagine we adopted the zodiacal calendar for religious purposes, at some indeterminate time in the past, in consequence to the respect for the astrologers and magi of Egypt and Chaldea, and the suspicion with which the moon was viewed as a symbol of shifting fate. Nevertheless, we would have been likewise following whatever civil calendar was in local use for civic purposes – whether Roman or, more likely, Macedonian/Hellenistic.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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