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On Heroes and Heroines

By Elani Temperance

Yesterday, I offered libations and a pancarpia of dried fruits to the heroines, as done at ancient Erchia on this date. The ancient Erchians did this twice a year, once on the 19th of Metageitnion, and once on the 14th of Pyanepsion. Certain heroines–like Basile–were worshipped separately from the group as well, most likely because they were local heroines instead of universally accepted heroines like Atalanta, who hunted the Calydonian boar, slew Centaurs, defeated Peleus in wrestling, or Kallisto, who was an Arcadian princess and hunting companion of the Goddess Artemis. The Heroines recieved a white sheep in sacrifice, of which the meat was partly sacrificed and partly eaten by those who came out to sacrifice. the offering was to remain on the altar for an extended period of time and not to be cleaned off. The skin of the animal went towards the priestess.

Heroes and heroines have a special place in Hellenismos, as they had in ancient Hellas. These were humans–most with at least a part divine heritage–who were considered so brave, so skillful, so extraordinary in their lifetime that they became revered. Some were priests or priestesses of a temple, some excelled in battle, others were skilled healers or good rulers. Once they passed to the realm of Hades, their names were remembered at least once a year on a special ocassion, because the ancient Hellenes believed that if the name and deeds of a person were remembered, they would live forever and potentially look out for those they had looked out for before.

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