August is upon us and gracing us with a seasonal blue moon. Different than a traditional blue moon (second one in the same month), a seasonal blue moon is a fourth full moon occurring between solstices. So while August only has one full moon, we will have four full moons from the June Solstice to the September Solstice instead of the traditional three full moons.
Hence, a seasonal blue moon.
Other Anglo-Saxon monikers include the Barley Moon and the Green Corn Moon. The Algonquin, around the Great Lakes of North America referred to it as the sturgeon moon since this lake fish was plentiful in August. Either way, people around the world recognized this month as a time of plenty and a time to begin preparing for the long winter ahead.
My scribe has been absent recently; far too often. It would seem that one of the many son’s of Apollo has caught his interest and left me feeling more than a little deserted.
Who, you ask?
Aristaeus, the rustic son of Apollon and the keeper of many of the outdoor earthly arts. Wanna grow a garden? Better give a nod to Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, but you really better be in good with Aristaeus. Cheesemaking, hunting, fishing, orchard-keeping, and my scribe’s new obsession, bee-keeping, all fall under the influence of Aristaeus.
I suppose he’s hard to resist, if you go in for that type. His father is Apollon, who first encountered his mother fighting a lion, and he has been a favorite amongst the Olympian crowd ever since he could walk. Apollo took Cyrene, his mother Libya and there she gave birth to Aristaeus in the city named after her.
Once grown he moved to Thebes where he studied under Chiron and learned the healing arts, but ever was he drawn to the outdoors. As I mentioned earlier, his artisan skills endeared him to the older gods, even moreso after he interceded on behalf of the people of Ceos. Zeus had grown angry of the inhabitants of the area and wrought a destructive drought on the area that Aristaeus was able to bring to an end by building a temple to the King of the Gods and appeasing his infamous temper.
Aristaeus continued to travel, visiting many island in the Mediterranean, and even ruling over Sardinia for a period of time. Everywhere he went, he freely gave away the knowledge of his skills in building, keeping, and protecting, apiaries, olive groves, vineyards, hunting, shepherding, and how to best utilize their resources to receive bountiful blessings from Demeter as organized agriculture continued to grow and flourish.
In the end he retired to Thessaly where he studied under Dionysos and shared the knowledge with the local inhabitants. Wine, mead, and later ale all flowed from Dionysos, but they did so best under the supervision of Aristaeus. He dedicated his life to traveling the Eastern and Central Mediterranean and sharing the same knowledge that is still in use today for maximizing bounties in these rustic arts. For that, and all his protections over crops, livestock, vineyards, apiaries, and plantations he is recognized as possibly the most benevolent and beneficient of all the Greek deities.
I suppose it’s expected my scribe, who excels at the rustic earthly arts, would find Aristaeus eventually. And I know what you’re thinking, but forget it I’m the God of Hate and Jealousy but I’m not envious. Well, hardly at all. Aristaeus is a nice enough fellow, and I can see why this mortal would be enthralled. He just needs to get back to writing my stories. After all that is why I took him under my wing, to write my stories.
July is alternatively known as the Buck Moon by indigenous people throughout much of North America. This is because male deer, bucks, tend to have their antlers (which fall off in late winter) begin to show prominently at this time of year as they regrow in preparation for the fall rut.
It has also been referred to as the Hay Moon, an Anglo-Saxon reference to the dry time when hay was due to be cut for livestock. A torturous ordeal in and of itself, cutting hay.
This year’s full moon is expected to have a red-orange tint in North America due to the smoke from a multitude of wildfires currently burning. Let us all pray to our respective gods to protect lives and homes during this difficult time. So mote it be.
As the God of Hate, thousands of years old, I have seen countless generations of wise and insightful mortals come and go. Of course I am partial to the Greeks, I make no apologies there, but they hold no monopoly on wisdom. Every week I share my favorites and a thought on how their insight from thousands of years ago is still relevant today. Please enjoy these, I know I have through the years and they guide me every day.
I shared a bit about Julius Caesar in a previous post and now I am going to share about the greatest Greek General, and possibly greatest military mind, that ever existed.
Alexander III of Macedon otherwise known as Alexander the Great.
Alexander was born in Pella in 356 BC. The son of King Philip II, he succeeded his father to the throne at the age of 20. From there he went on the greatest empire building military campaign in the history of the world. At the time of his death, a mere 12 years later, his kingdom stretched from Greece to India, including all of Persia, and into northeastern Africa, including Egypt.
Alexander studied under the great Aristotle until age 16. This served him well later to learn calm deductive reasoning, which ran counter to his often rash and impulsive nature. And while his mother imbued in him a sense of destiny and immortality (she told he was the son of Zeus) his father provided the competitive impetus, through his own conquests, to drive young Alexander to be even better.
As a child, young Alexander once lamented to a friend about his father. Would leave him “no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world“. A statement that while Alexander recognized his father’s greatness, he sought to downplay it and promote his own victories as more significant. I suppose the rivalry between fathers and sons will always exist.
But victories and brilliant achievements awaited him. Alexander led his troops in no less than 20 major campaigns and no enemy ever defeated him. This despite him often being significantly outnumbered. His military genius, ability to inspire troops, and tactical intelligence are all taught in military institutions even in modern times.
I fought with Alexander only once, at The Battle of Issus, against an army personally led by Darius III. It was Alexander’s second great battle of his Persian Campaign, but the first where the two leaders personally faced one another. Here my Greek brethren showed his superior military genius.
Leading up to the battle, Alexander had already pushed deep into Persia, in the area of modern day Turkey. Darius sought to blunt his advance by moving unexpectedly into position, cutting his supply lines. This maneuver forced Alexander to adjust and march to Darius to secure his flanks as well as re-open supply and communication lines through the narrow mountain passes that traced the region. We faced off against Darius, and established a front. Outnumbered over 2:1 by the most conservative of guesses, still we held a distinct advantage. The significantly larger Persian force could not field itself as long as we could, hence they would be forced to retreat or attack while we could battle from a defensive position.
The battle waged at The Pinarus River, not far from where it emptied into the Gulf of Issus. Our troops struggled against both Grecian mercenaries who fought against us and the overwhelming Persian cavalry who threatened to overwhelm our left flank. General Craterus can be credited with holding them off, at great odds, long enough for Alexander himself to drive a wedge in the Persian line with a wedge of infantry to which I was attached. On this day I saw my father, Ares, smile on the Macedonian king as Alexander splintered the cohesive line of Persians with our infantry charge. That being not enough, Alexander then seized a horse and in conjunction with our cavalry, launched a direct frontal assault on Darius’ personal retinue that routed the opposing king and drove him from the field.
Alexander inspired confidence and loyalty in his generals and troops again and again over the years by fighting with them, not over them and talking to them, not at them. The mark of a great leader is to create a bond that binds followers through obedience only after inspiring them through trust. Great leaders always command the trust of their followers, and they actively work to cultivate that trust by showing the same care for their people as they expect their people to show to them.
If his ego existed, he kept it in check and made sure to lead by example. Never considering himself too good to do what he asked another to do.
I’m Greek, so as far as Romans go, I’m not much of a fan. But there is one who I simply cannot put down as being like ‘all the rest’.
Et tu Brute? Yeah that guy.
Despite his well-publicized death, I want to talk about his early life. Julius came from a significant, but not exceptionally wealthy family and had more than his share of hardships, in addition to becoming the dictator of the most powerful empire in Europe at the time.
When Julius was just 25 years old he traveled to Rhodes to study. While en-route his shipped was attacked and seized by Cilician pirates, who were unaware of his identity, and kidnapped him for ransom. When the young Caesar discovered that the pirates had demanded 2o talents of silver (about 620kg or 1375lbs) he became incensed, demanding they ask for more. He considered such a low request demeaning and told them to raise the ransom to 50 talents (1550 kg or 3400lbs) of silver, which they did.
The pirates dispatched several of Caesar’s companions to fetch the ransom, leaving Julius mostly alone. But did he cower and wait for the payment? Not in the slightest. Reports from other captives later claimed that Caesar all but bullied the pirate captors the entire time, at one point even demanding that he not be disturbed at night because he needed his rest. During the day he made them listen to poetry and speeches he composed, directed them in their chores and daily routines, and even exercised as well as played games with his captors. Collecting the ransom took forty days and there is no disputing that by the time it was paid most of the pirates treated him more as their superior than their hostage. Some later claimed to greatly respect him, despite his young age.
At his release Julius informed the pirates that while they had joy, fun, and a season in the sun, he did not appreciate the whole captivity thing and he planned to hunt them all down and have them crucified. Apparently none believed a private citizen had this sort of clout, so when he arrived a year later with a private fleet he hired, he captured them quite easily and reclaimed his silver.
After their capture he did follow through, as a man of his word and got the authorities in Pergamon to find them guilty and execute the entire lot. Moments before the crucifictions, however, Julius showed a modicum of compassion and slit all their throats to ease their suffering, rather than the hours or days it would take to die on their crosses.
What a soft-hearted guy. I suppose that summer frolicking in the summer Med with them meant more to him than maybe he let on.
Interesting fact about his death. Sixty senators plotted against Caesar to kill him and they all agreed to stab him so none would be able to determine who made the actual kill. When his body was examined post-mortem, Caesar was found to be wounded by twenty-three stab wounds. Of those, only one was actually a killing blow.
That means barely a third of the people who signed up, actually did what they promised to do.
And of those who did do what they promised? 95% did an ineffectual job and were useless.
Let this be a reminder the next time you get forced into a group project at work or school. Because from experience? These percentages still ring true.
And finally, always remember, politicians are more always vicious and blood-thirsty than common pirates and thieves.
The Worm Moon, third of the calendar year, occurs close to Ostara, which celebrates the equinox. It traditionally heralded the end of winter and welcomed the rebirth of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. In addition it is a Super Moon in 2021, signifying it’s close proximity to Earth during its elliptical orbit.