GraecoMuse Turns One

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The Bases of Zanes at Olympia, Greece. Statues...
The Bases of Zanes at Olympia, Greece. Statues of Zeus were erected on these bases, paid for by fines imposed on those who were found to be cheating at the Olympic Games. The names of the athletes were inscribed on the base of each statue to serve as a warning to all.

Hello Everyone! This month this website turns one year old. Thank you everyone for reading and continuing to do so! GraecoMuse has now had over 40,000 views and has 528 subscribers. 🙂

So incase you missed some of the entries and are interested in having a read, here are all the entries for the last year. Hope you all enjoy, keep reading, and most of all learn new things.

Also remember that there is now a facebook page for archaeology and history news and comments. At

Simple Musings – 26/10/11

Review: Betz, H.D., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (Chicago, 1986) – 26/10/11

Confessions of an Archaeologist: Live Free and Dig Hard! – 27/10/11

The (not so) True History – Lucian of Samosata – 29/10/11

Kepler’s Somnium (The Dream) – 30/10/11

Survivor PhD: Close Encounters of the First Kind – 01/11/11

Lost in Translation: It’s all Greek to Us – 07/11/11

Recommended Reading: Blum and Blum, Health and Healing in Rural Greece – 11/11/11

Back to the Future: The Significance of Studying Ancient History – 14/11/11

Relic Hunter: Common Misconceptions of Archaeology – 22/11/11

To Pass Knowledge on to the Younger Generations – 08/12/11

Wilde/Chase Books 1-4: Andy McDermott – 22/12/11

Santa Claus Before Coca Cola – 25/12/11

Felix sit annus novus! Happy New Year! – 31/12/11

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 1 – 11/01/12

English: Ancient Greek helmets.
Ancient Greek helmets

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 2 – 20/01/12

War Minus the Shooting: Ideals behind the Ancient Olympic Games – 28/01/12

Traditional and Historical Origins of Certain Supernatural Ideologies – 29/01/12

Female Heroism in Ancient Greek Literature – 04/02/12

A Shaky Beginning: Parkinson’s Disease in Ancient History – 09/02/12

The Fall of the Ancient Olympics: The Theodosian Code – 17/02/12

Basic Numismatics: A Quick Guide to the Study of Ancient Coinage – 23/02/12

Ancient Scripts of Egypt: An Introduction – 02/03/12

Poetic License: An Introduction to Greek (and Latin) Meter – 08/03/12

Tools of the Trade: Archaeology – 18/03/12

Ammianus Marcellinus: Biographical Record in the Res Gestae – 23/03/12

The Language of Trees: Ogham (Archaic Irish Script) – 26/03/12

Holey Cranium Batman! The Archaeology of Trephination – 10/04/12

In the Beginning: Biblical Creation Myths vs. Others Around the Mediterranean – 14/04/12

Cuneiform: An Introduction to One of the Earliest Scripts – 28/04/12

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 1 – 08/05/12

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 2 – 08/05/12

Isthmia: Roman Baths and Muscular Men – 16/05/12

Runic Scripts – Elder and Younger Futhark – 19/05/12Piracy in the Ancient Mediterranean – 01/06/12

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 3! – 10/06/12

The Cave of Letters – 20/06/12

From Pole to Pole: The History of Pole Dancing and Fitness – 23/06/12

Hoplitodromos (armoured race); on the right so...
Hoplitodromos (armoured race); on the right some tripods as winning prizes. Side A of an Attic black-figure neck-amphora, ca. 550 BC. From Vulci.

Graecomuse and Parkinson’s Disease – 01/07/12

The Valley of the Dawn – Made-up religion of 32,000 years? – 08/07/12

Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 4 – 09/07/12

Archaeology Travel Blog: Istanbul pt. 1 – 18/07/12

Archaeological Travel Blog: Istanbul Part 2 – 27/07/12

Archaeology Travel Blog: Selinus and Antiochia ad Cragum! – 03/08/12

Archaeology Travel Blog: Ancient Side – 04/08/12

I Have My Eye On You: The Evil Eye in Antiquity – 29/08/12

Curses and Fines on Greek Grave Stele – 06/09/12

Theodora of Justinian: The Protectress of the Poor! – 28/09/12

Neodamodeis – The Freed Helots of Sparta – 07/10/12

A Source-Critical Analysis of the Parable of the Mustard Seed – 08/10/12


Important Rules to Remember When Learning Ancient Greek Part 4

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Welcome to part 4! This post looks at the basic demonstrative pronouns, which I may address again later when I have more time, and the present and middle voices in Classical and Koine Greek. Hope you find this interesting and/or useful.

Paradigms of the Demonstrative Pronouns

  • Not to be confused with the paradigms of αὐτός and the definite articles – can tell by context, breathing and accenting. Demonstrative pronouns have a rough breathing
  • Demonstratives indicate ‘this’ or ‘that’
  • The declension of ‘THIS’ = οὗτος = ‘near demonstrative’
    • Rough breathing occurs in the nominative masculine and feminine in both the singular and plural
    • The diphthong of the stem of the ‘near demonstrative’, OU or AU, varies with vowel of the ending O (W) or A (H)

Demonstrative Pronoun: “THIS”

masculine feminine neuter
sing. plur. sing. plur. sing. plur.
nom. οὗτος οὗτοι αὕτη αὗται τοῦτο ταῦτα
gen. τούτου τούτων ταύτης τούτων τούτου τούτων
dat. τούτῳ τούτοις ταύτῃ ταύταις τούτῳ τούτοις
acc. τοῦτον τούτους ταύτην ταύτας τοῦτο ταῦτα
  • The declensions of ‘THAT’ = ἐκεῖνος = ‘far demonstrative’
    • Identical endings to that of οὗτος

Demonstrative Pronoun: “THAT”

masculine feminine neuter
sing. plur. sing. plur. sing. plur.
nom. ἐκεῖνος ἐκεῖνοι ἐκείνη ἐκεῖναι ἐκεῖνο ἐκεῖνα
gen. ἐκείνου ἐκείνων ἐκείνης ἐκείνων ἐκείνου ἐκείνων
dat. ἐκείνῳ ἐκείνοις ἐκείνῃ ἐκείναις ἐκείνῳ ἐκείνοις
acc. ἐκεῖνον ἐκείνους ἐκείνην ἐκείνας ἐκεῖνο ἐκεῖνα

Uses of the Demonstratives

  • Three main uses

    P.Duk.inv.98r – Private Letter
  • Mostly used to modify nouns – so agree with the noun in gender, number and case
    • Stands in the predicate position
    • Never immediately preceded by the definite article
    • Greek demonstrative pronouns always modify arthrous nouns
    • Both THIS and THAT may be used by themselves with the force of a substantive
      • This one, or that one
      • When demonstrative pronouns occur with anarthrous nouns they are NOT modifiers of these nouns but pronouns
      • May be used to refer to persons mentioned in the immediately preceding context
        • Translated simply as he, she, or they
ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἄνθρωπος = than man
ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος = than man
ὁ ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν οὗτος = the man is this one

The Present Middle and Passive Indicative of λύω

  • The passive voice – subject is receiving the action of the verb
  • The middle voice – represents the subject as acting in its own interest or to participate
  • Just how the action is related to the subject is not indicated by the middle voice itself but by the context or the verbal idea
  • I am being loosed = λύομαι
  • Connecting vowel o/e are clearly observable in all forms, except in the second person singular
  • Forms of the middle voice are identical with those of the passive, the context alone will indicate whether the construction is middle or passive in function
  • Eg, p.87
  • Negative is immediately before the verb – OU

Uses of the Middle Voice

  • Is involved in the action of the verb
  • Manner of the involvement must be inferred from the context
  • I am releasing myself; I am releasing for myself; I myself am releasing
  • REFLEXIVE MIDDLE = result of the action of the verb directly to the subject, eg. ‘Judas handed himself’
  • INTENSIVE MIDDLE = emphasizes the agent as producing the action rather than participating in its results, eg. ‘he himself secured eternal redemption’
  • RECIPROCAL MIDDLE = use of the plural subject engaged in an interchange of action, eg. ‘The Jews were agreeing with on another’
    • This idea is expressed usually by an active verb plus the pronoun ἀλλήλους (one another)

Deponent Verbs

  • Verbs with middle or passive forms without any corresponding active forms = DEPONENT verbs
  • Eg. ERXOMAI ‘I go’ = middle in form but active in meaning
  • TRUE MIDDLES = in which the subject is being emphasized in some manner; Following categories:
  • RECIPROCITY = describe situations in which two parties are involved
  • REFLEXIVITY = verbal idea turns back upon the subject
  • SELF-INVOLVEMENT = processes that the subject alone can experience
  • With some verbs the active form has one meaning and the middle another
  • A number of deponent verbs occur with a prepositional prefix
  • Several NT verbs take their direct objects in a case other than the accusative


  • Passive verb will often by followed by the identification of an agent
  • THE DIRECT AGENT = by whom an action is performed = UNO + GENITIVE
  • INTERMEDIATE AGENT = through whom the original agent acts = DIA + GENITIVE
  • IMPERSONAL AGENCY = in dative case with or without EN
  • The passive voice frequently occurs when no agent is expressed. This usage occurs frequently in the sayings of Jesus

Resources that may help you further:

Perseus Vocabulary Tools

New Testament Greek Grammar Books

Learn to Read New Testament Greek, Third Edition, By: David Alan Black

Little Greek 101

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From Pole to Pole: The History of Pole Dancing and Fitness

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This post is just a bit of fun after a very long week. Recently another PhD student and I decided to branch out a bit and do something a unconventional and fun, so at the start of the year we started taking a pole fitness class at a local dance studio. And before anyone asks, we wear gym clothes and it is nothing that you would see in a strip club. Pole can be a sport; a combination of dance, gymnastics and body-building and it is part of the International Body Building Association. But it got me thinking that there must be traditions behind the idea going back into my favourite subject: Ancient History. Lo and Behold I was correct.

So let me introduce you to the origins and traditions of pole fitness just because I can.


Mallakhamb is a traditional Indian sport which is made up of gymnastics and poses undertaken on a vertical wooden pole or rope. The word Mallakhamb comes from the terms ‘malla’ meaning a ‘gymnast’ or ‘man of strength’ and Khamb meaning ‘pole’. Essentially it translates as ‘pole gymnastics’. The earliest records of the sport come from the twelfth century when it was mentioned in the Indian classic Manasollasa written in 1135 AD by Somesvara Chalukya. In the Manasollasa it is called by an earlier form of the term ‘Mallastambha’.

Mallakhamb lost popularity over the centuries before being the subject of a revival in the early nineteenth century in India. It was revived and recorded by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar who was the fitness instructor of Peshwa bajirao during the reign of Peshwas. Nowadays, twenty-nine states in India participate nationally in competitions demonstrating three main types of Mallakhamb; hanging, rope and fixed Mallakhamb. Also forms of Mallakhamb are predominantly male and was originally introduced as a supporting exercise for wrestlers in order to develop and maintain concentration, speed and flexibility. Modern studies have even begun to appear showing the benefits of the sport to health and strength. P.Nande explains for instance that it causes a decrease in body fat percentage and an increase in lean body mass.

The video below shows just how much skill and strength is required in Mallakhamb. It also demonstrates the types of moves that are performed in pole fitness. This video is not sped up…which is a bit scary actually…

Chinese Pole

Chinese Pole is an amazing feat of strength and gymnastics which is today associated with the likes of Cirque du Soleil. It dates also to around the twelfth century in the literary evidence with it being performed by circus professionals using 3-9m tall poles laced with rubber material. The rubber material is not always used because it had the potential to cause painful friction burns. Yet again Chinese Pole is predominantly male activity and hence friction burns would be even more painful to certain areas. Full body costumes were and are worn often by performers requiring even more skill on the behalf of the performer.

Chinese pole is still a popular sport which is often performed with at least two participants or many more. They display climbing, sliding, stretching and holding positions with acute strength usually performed with two poles. Performers hop from pole to pole displaying gravity defying tricks.

Just watch the link below. If you thought Mallakhamb was amazing, this is just ridiculous!

European Pole Dancing

Image from A Little Pretty Pocket-book
Image from A Little Pretty Pocket-book

The western world had its own types of pole dancing with influences from Druid, Pagan and Roman traditions. The most famous of these is Maypole dancing which dates back in the record to the twelfth century as well. Maypole dancing was essentially a pagan celebration of fertility (hence the pole as a phallic symbol).

It was performed by young girls performing circle dances around a pole decorated with garlands of flowers and emblems. The younger girls involved danced in the inner circle while the older danced in the outer circle, all holding ribbons. The dancing itself involved circular steps which allowed the ribbons to intertwined and plait round the pole and then be unravelled while the girls retraced their steps. The festival, in which the maypole dance was performed, marked the beginning of the pastoral summer or Beltane. It is also connected to the Roman worship of Flora and the festival of Floralia which was celebrated at the same time.

The Ancient Greek’s also had their own form of maypole like dancing in the Daphnephoria. Eutychius Proclus discusses the pole in the Daphnephoria in his Chrestomathy written in the second century AD:

(74) This is the daphnephoria: They wreathe an olive-wood pole with laurel-branches and colourful flowers, and on top of it they fasten a bronze ball, and from this they hang smaller ones. And, onto the middle of the pole, they attach purple fillets of wool, and put them around a ball smaller than the one at the top. And they wrap around the [bottom] end-parts of the pole with saffron-dyed material.
(75) To the people the highest ball represents the sun (with which they also associate Apollo), and the one lying beneath [represents] the moon; the hanging balls [represent] the planets and stars; and, indeed, the purple fillets [represent] the yearly cycle – for they even make exactly 365 of them.
(76) A boy with two living parents starts/leads the daphnephoria; and his closest relative holds up the wreathed pole, which they call the kōpō.
(77) And the daphnephoros himself follows and holds onto the laurel, with his hair let down, wearing a golden crown, bedecked in bright clothing down to his feet, and shod in epikratides; a khoros of parthenoi accompany him, holding out sprigs in supplication [and] singing hymns.
(78) And they escort the daphnephoria to the temples of Apollo Ismenios and Khalazios.

(Translation provided by my dear friend A.Cox from Sydney University)

African Pole Dances

There is little information on the history of pole dancing in Africa but it certainly existed in some forms. Tribal rituals in certain areas involved betrothed women dancing around wooden poles as a type of fertility dance. Again the pole represented a phallic symbol with the connection to fertility.

Panjat Pinang (Pinang Climb)

Panjat Pinang is a traditional game played in Indonesian which was introduced in the era of Dutch colonialism as a form of entertainment. It is essentially a climbing game performed at events like weddings using traditional areca nut trees. Participants compete to climb the poles to reach a variety of interesting gifts. It is also performed as a way of celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day when the pole is covered in oil or lubricants and young men are invited to climb and compete to reach the prizes at the top.

Influential Origins

Obviously western pole dancing is largely associated with exotic dancing which has its roots far bar in ancient history. The exotic dance dates back to at least ancient Sumerian times when dances like that of the seven veils was used in association with the goddess of love Inanna. The dances were used to tell stories as a form of interpretive dance. The dance of the seven veils for instance represents the seven gates which Inanna had to pass through to find her lover and partner Damouz.

Pole dancing also has influences in Belly-dancing and Latin inspired dancing such as the Rumba and the Tango. Nowadays it still relates to the ancient forms as a hybrid dance and fitness form.

Want to see what modern pole is like as a hybrid of all these historical and international influences? Just watch the video below of the amazing pole fitness and art champion Oona Kivela: