Ancient Greece is perhaps one of the most famous periods of human history. The gods and goddesses of mythology are passed on to us through story telling, museums and some frankly awful (and some amazing) films.
With our Secret Late event this week it got me thinking about how much we actually know about these gods, and what secrets they had. Not everything is well documented and known, in fact some of those devious gods seem to have had a few secrets of their own...
Aphrodite, the foam born Goddess of Love, is one of the oldest gods from the Greek pantheon. She is married to the god Hephaestus, but they didn't exactly have the most stable of marriages.
Aphrodite with her son, the winged Eros
In fact, Aphrodite kept many secrets from her husband and had affairs with other gods such as: Poseidon, god of the sea, Dionysos, the god of wine and Nerites a sea god who she turned into a clam when he refused to leave the sea for her.
Her long relationship with Aries, the War God, was her most famous clandenstine affair, and is even mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. Despite all her cunning, she wasn't the best at keeping secrets and inevitably her husband would find out.
Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries
Demeter is a personal favourite of mine, she is the mother of Persephone who was kidnapped by the god of the underworld but is eventually returned after sixth months. Demeter's changing mood at having her daughter with her were believed to influence the seasonal change.
Teracottas like this may depict the goddess Demeter
The Eleusinian mysteries were a cult honouring Demeter, but the activities were a secret and never written down. Only initiates to the cult knew what was hidden within the kiste (a scared chest) and kalathos (basket), I'm guessing something shiny.
Ok not Ancient Greek (originally a Persian deity renamed Mithras in Greek), but the cult of Mithras is perhaps one of the most famous secrets from the Ancient World.
This replica Greek cup represents a bull, a popular motif with the Greek god Zeus and the illusive Mithras.
Like the Eleusinian Mysteries this was Mystery Religion, meaning only the initiates knew what happened inside the temples. Mithras was popular with the Roman military, although he is a far older god, and often features Tauroctony, which means a bull slaying scene. No one really knows what this scene might mean, the bull is probably a sacrifice, perhaps he represents the Greek god Zeus and marks the end of the old rule and a celebration of the new Roman Empire, or perhaps it links to a Zoroastrian myth with a similar story?
We will probably never unfathom these secrets, and I for one love that!
If you fancy sharing in some secrets with us this week, be sure to pop along to our Secret Late this Thursday evening.