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Mysteries of Ancient Greece
You Didn't Know About

Mysteries of Ancient Greece You Didn't Know About

Date
25 January 2020

It is well-known that the Ancient Greeks were great inventors and even greater storytellers. They bequeathed to us important values, great knowledge and wonderful myths. However, there is still a part of their heritage that we do not understand, either because we do not have enough evidence or because we were not intended to be in their secrets. From the cryptic "Epsilon" of Delphi to the mystic triangles and the spacetime portals, there are some mysteries of Ancient Greece that still remain unsolved. Let’s have a look at three of the greatest mysteries and try to unlock them.

Image after introtext
Portara in Naxos island - Credit: Apano at wikivoyage shared [CC BY-SA]

1. The Delphic E

Τhe Delphic E or, as it is also known, the "Delphic Epsilon", is nowadays a very misunderstood symbol that some want to identify with secret groups and conspiracy theories. On the contrary, the Delphic Epsilon, that is, the symbol that was placed (according to ancient texts and findings) at the top of the pediment of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, had for the ancient world its own important value and philosophy. So what was it and what did the Delphic Epsilon really mean?

Representation of the Temple of Apollo by A. Tournaire (1894)

According to the most popular theory, the Epsilon letter as a symbol is directly related to the Delphic Solar Mysticism, the initiation of the man into the light. Its placement on the pediment of the Delphic Temple of Apollo (God of Light - Solar worship) indicates the man’s eternal relationship with the light, thus, perfection. The letter E has three parallel lines marking the union of body, mind and soul, highlighting the trinity of human nature. The letter is the fifth number of the Greek alphabet, with the number five symbolizing the five elements needed for life, according to the Ancients: Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Aether.

The Oracle of Delphi entranced

The Delphic Epsilon was placed at the top of the pediment of the Temple of Apollo, right at its center. At the lower-left corner, there was the inscription “Γνώθι Σαυτόν", meaning “know thyself” in Greek, while at the lower-right corner, there was the inscription “Μηδέν Άγαν”, meaning “nothing in excess”. These are known as the “Delphic Commandments” and E was ‘presiding’ over them. There were three letters of E in total: the oldest one was made of wood and is referred to as “the E of the Wise Men” because it was dedicated by either Solon (one of the seven Wise Men of Ancient Greece) or by all the Wise Men. The second E was bronze and it was commissioned by the Athenians. The third E is known as “the Golden E” since it was made of pure gold, dedicated to God Apollo by Livia Drusilla, the wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus.

The archaeological site of Delphi

The fact that a letter of the alphabet is causing so much debate and inspires so many theories shows the great importance of that letter in antiquity. The fact that no one wrote about it, but also the way Plutarch himself (a priest of Apollo at Delphi) talks about it, indicates that it must have been key to the Delphic Mysteries. The main reason we do not have more information about this mystery is probably because it was considered a moral and criminal offense to share secrets of the mysteries to the uninitiated, an offense that was punishable by death! So, we will continue looking and our imagination will keep running wild until one day (hopefully) find some proof in our hands.

The Temple of Apollo today

Tip! You can join our private tour of Delphi as a day trip from Athens and try to unlock the mysteries of the Delphic E and the Delphic Commandments at the place that they were created.

2. Τhe Sacred Triangle of Greece

The famous Triangle of Ancient Greece is another big mystery regarding our ancestors, as the positioning of their temples forms imaginative geometric formations that defy reasonable interpretations. Why did the Ancient Greeks build their places of worship in such a way as to create equilateral and isosceles triangles on the map? What did this perfect triangle mean to them? And how could they possibly calculate with such precision when the distances were so great and with the sea interfering with them?

A perfect isosceles triangle is formed by the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio of Athens, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Temple of Athena Aphaia in Aegina. Another perfect isosceles triangle is formed by the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Temple of Athena Parthenos (the Parthenon) in Athens and the Temple of Athena Aphaia once again in Aegina. Both Aristotle and Strabo admit that the place of the establishment of the sanctuaries was not coincidental but instead followed an internal regulation with its own esoteric methodology, though both appear hesitant to reveal the details of this divine analogy. One theory is that the sites reflect the movements of celestial bodies such as the sun, moon or planets and stars in relation to the Earth’s surface. In other words, the holy places of Ancient Greeks were built in a position to align the inhabited parts of the Earth with the planets in the sky.

Temple of Hephaestus

The harmonious relationship of temples, oracles, tombs, and sanctuaries reaches us today only as a picture, a picture of colossal conception which causes us a thrill. However, the well-kept secret stubbornly refuses to reveal itself. What do you think? What secrets lie behind the sacred triangles?

Temple of Athena Aphaia in Aigina

Tip! You can join an Acropolis Mythology tour or a tailor-made tour to all places of the sacred triangles with an expert guide and try to feel if there is special energy or other factors that led to their positioning.

3. The Stargates

What does Homer have in common with Einstein? They both spoke about gates through time and space. Einstein called them ‘wormholes’. Homer, writes in his work Iliad: “At once, Hera whipped up the horses, and Heaven’s Gates of themselves groaned open on their hinges, gates that the Hours guard, the wardens of wide heaven and Olympus, to veil or reveal as they see fit. Through the gates they drove their steady horses […]” (Iliad, Rhapsody E, verses 741-751). We can interpret Homer’s words simply as divine abilities of the Olympian Gods born out of his or the Greeks’ imagination. However, someone could also see it as a reference to real gates, used by the Greeks or other beings of ‘divine’ power. Space gate references can be traced in ancient texts and traditions of other peoples as well. There are reports of "strange visitors" who visited our planet passing through "star gates" and thus, came to be the term "stargate". A figment of their running imagination or real-life testimonies? 

The story of Iliad

Portara, the imposing, massive marble doorway of Naxos, is the first thing we see from the sea as our boat approaches the port of the island. Some consider it to be the gateway to the Lost Atlantis. Others believe it leads to another dimension. It was clearly part of a great ancient temple, however, it remains a mystery to which god the temple was dedicated to. Some archeologists argue that because of the fact that the great gate, Portara, turns toward Delos, the sacred island of god Apollo, it was a temple dedicated to the god of Light. Other archeologists claim that it must have been dedicated to Naxos’ patron god, Dionysus. This is where the great hero Theseus arrived after defeating the Minotaur and abducting King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne. God Dionysus set a claim on her and Theseus had to abandon her forever. The island of Naxos is directly connected to the god Dionysus and it is probably here that the Dionysia have been born. But back to the main question: is Portara a stargate and if so, where does it lead?

Portara in Naxos island

In Hierapolis, in present-day Turkey, one can find the ruins of an Ancient Greek city and the Temple of Apollo (yes, we thought about it too; Apollo seems to be involved in almost every great mystery of Ancient Greece…). In 2013, archeologists unearthed something that the Ancient Greeks described as a “gateway to Hell”. The fascination of the Ancient Greeks for the Underworld, the Kingdom of god Hades (Pluto in Latin), is well-known. They had a very detailed description of the journey to Hades and how Underworld looked like. Was it an actual place that one could travel through a gate or just a myth? Pluto’s gate in Hierapolis was considered so sacred that only the High Priests were allowed anywhere near it. Could gates like Portara and Ploutonion be portals to another space or time, protected and operated by mysterious priests who possessed knowledge and technology far superior to our own today? Or was it all just imaginative myths?

Hierapolis

Although the Mysteries of Ancient Greeks are exciting and make our imagination go wild, there are parts of their everyday life that are pretty awesome as well. Have a look at some things you didn’t know about the Ancient Greeks. And if you love Greek mythology as much as we do, here is a list of the 30 most famous tales from Greek mythology. Enjoy the reading!

Main photo credit: Olaf Tausch [CC BY]

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