B - An Illustrated Glossary of Hellenic Polytheism
BEING A DICTIONARY OR BRIEF ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HELLENISMOS, THE ANCIENT PAGAN GREEK RELIGION
PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology , the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.
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ABBREVIATIONS: A list of abbreviations used in the glossary can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME PAGE
Β, β, ϐ Víta (Beta; Gr. βήτα, ΒΉΤΑ) - Greek words beginning with this letter (Víta) will be found in the Glossary under the letter V. The Glossary uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, which is modern-Greek pronunciation, and in modern Greek, the b-sound is not represented by Víta. The diphthong μπ (Ýpsilon-Pei) when found at the beginning of a Greek word represents the b-sound, pronounced like the b in boy or big; when the diphthong μπ is found inside a word, a slight m is heard before the b-sound. See Pronunciation of Ancient Greek and Transliteration of Ancient Greek.
Bacchus - Visit this page: Diónysos.
Baetylos - See Vaitylos.
Ball - The Ball is one of the Toys of Diónysos. See Sphaira.
Barbare onomata - See Várvari onómata.
Barbarian - See Várvaros.
Barbaros - See Várvaros.
Barbitos - See Várvitos.
Barriginæ - The Barriginæ were Keltic priestesses of a Gaulish deity, presumed to be Vákkhos (Diónysos), on the island of Sena amongst the British islands opposite Osismici (ed., or Osistamnii, likely just the names of the tribes of the local peoples, the Ostimii), where there was an oracle to this God. There were nine of these priestesses and they were in service to the seafaring peoples of that area. The Barriginæ were said to possess extraordinary powers such as curing irremediable illnesses, bringing on strong winds, changing themselves into animals, and upsetting the sea. (source: Pomponius Melas De Situ Orbis 3.6)
Basileus - See Vasiléfs.
Basilios Bessarion - See Vissaríohn, Vasíleios.
Basilissa - See Vasílissa.
Battiadae - See Vattiádai.
Battus I - See Váttos I Aristotǽlis.
Bay-laurel - Please visit this page: Bay Laurel.
Bees and honey - Bees are symbolic of the Nýmphai (Nymphs; Gr. Νύμφαι) and the honey they produce represents immortality and the divine Aithír. Please visit this page: Nymphs.
Belief, faith, and opinion - See Pístis and Dóxa.
Bellerophon - See Vællærophóhn.
Benzoin - Please visit this page: Storax
Bessarion, Besilios - See Vissaríohn, Vasíleios.
Binding a God - This practice is forbidden but also absurd. The practitioner is said to 'bind' a god to do his or her will. A God can never be bound as the Gods are completely free and manifestly more powerful than any mortal being. When an individual believes that they are binding a deity, they are dealing with beings of what is called the lower sky, entities masquerading as Gods. The end result is that the practitioner does not even succeed in binding this being, but is deceived by it and has surrendered his freedom to it. The Gods want only freedom for us, therefore, if one were to submit to such bondage, there is no admittance to the Sacred Mysteries, by one's own freely made decision.
A section of the Odýsseia (Odyssey; Gr. Ὀδύσσεια) of Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) is sometimes cited to justify the practice of "binding a god." It is found in Book IV, verses 408 through 641. In this passage, Mænǽlaos (Menelaus; Gr. Μενέλαος) wrestles Prohtéfs (Proteus; Gr. Πρωτεύς) to obtain knowledge. As he struggles, the "Old Man of the Sea," as he is called, assumes many disguises: a lion, a serpent, a panther, a wild boar, a torrent of water, a massive tree. But Mænǽlaos would not give up his hold on Prohtéfs and he finally is given the answers he has come for. This story, as in so much of Greek mythology, is an analogy. Prohtéfs is the great struggle of the soul which all men who seek Arætí (Arete or Virtue; Gr. Ἀρετή) must conquer; if one perseveres, a great award awaits: one finds the truth one seeks. So, if understood properly, this story has nothing to do with "binding" a God.
blood sacrifice - Please visit this page: Burnt Offerings.
Bomos - See Vohmós.
Boreas - See Vorǽas.
Boule - See Voulefsis .
Boulesis - See Voulefsis.
Boys and children - "Pythagoras pointed out that boys were most dear to the divinities; and he pointed out that, in times of great drought, cities would send boys as ambassadors to implore rain from the Gods, in the persuasion that divinity is especially attentive to children.....That is also the reason why the most philanthropic of the Gods, Apollo and Love (ed. Eros), are, in pictures, universally represented as having the ages of boys." (Iámvlikhos [Iamblichus; Gr. Ἰάμβλιχος] The Life of Pythagoras, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1818, edited for readability by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie in The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, 1988 edition, Phanes Press [Grand Rapids MI USA], where this quotation may be found on p. 68)
"This little creature is full of joy. He has not food to eat every day, yet he goes to the show every evening, if he sees fit. He has no shirt to his back, no shoes to his feet, no roof over his head; he is like the flies in the air who have none of all these things. He is from seven to thirteen years of age, lives in troops, ranges the streets, sleeps in the open air, wears an old pair of his father's pantaloons down about his heels, an old hat of some other father, which covers his ears, and a single suspender of yellow listing, runs about, is always on the watch and on the search, kills time, colours pipes, swears like an imp, hangs about the wine-shop, knows thieves and robbers, is hand in glove with the street-girls, rattles off slang, sings smutty songs, and, withal, has nothing bad in his heart. This is because he has a pearl in his soul, innocence; and pearls do not dissolve in mire. So long as man is a child, God wills that he be innocent. If one could ask of this vast city: what is that creature? She would answer: 'it is my bantling.' (ed. "child") " (Victor Hugo commenting about the boys of the streets of Paris. From Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, Marius, Book First, Chapter I. Translated by Charles E. Wilbour in 1862. As can be found in the 1998 Everyman's Library edition, Alfred A. Knopf, on p. 573)
Brotos - See Vrotós.
Brumal - an adjective used by Thomas Taylor in the Hymns of Orpheus, meaning Bacchic. As an example, from Taylor's translation of the Orphic hymn to Venus:
"Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod,
Awful attendant of the brumal God:
Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight,
Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight;"
- Brumal is derived from Brumus, an ancient name of Bacchus among the Romans. (CM p. 180) Brumus is likely derived from the Greek Vrómios (Bromius; Gr. βρόμιος), a title of Diónysos meaning "noisy" or "boisterous." This derivation of the word is considered dubious by many scholars.
- Brumal, from the Latin bruma or Brumalis, is an archaic word referring to the shortest day, i.e., the winter solstice. Therefore, it generally means "wintry," and it is characteristic of the Dionysian festivals that they are in the wintry season. In our tradition, the winter solstice falls just before the Twelve Days of Diónysos. See Brumalis.
Brumalia - The Romans celebrated a feast of Diónysos instituted by Romulus, called variously the Brumae, the Brumalia, or the Hiemalia. It was also practiced in Greece as a foreign festival during the period of the (Roman) empire. There is confusion regarding the dates of Brumalia, some saying that it was celebrated twice a year, vix. on the 12th of the calends of March, and on the calends of September. Others say that the Brumalia was celebrated on the winter solstice or the 25th of December. (BNP p. 141) Judging by the very name of the festival, it would seem obvious that it was a winter solstice celebration. The Wikipedia article says that it was a winter solstice festival honoring Saturn, Ceres and Bacchus, but its sources are unclear.
Brumalis - (Latin) brumalis, I. Of or pertaining to the winter solstice, or shortest day. II. Wintry, of winter. Brumalis is derived from the Latin bruma, I. the shortest day in the year, the winter solstice. Brumalis refers to the tropic of Capricorn or simply (ed. the zodiacal sign of) Capricorn (ed. Αἰγοκέρως in Greek) II. A. the winter time, winter (mostly poetic usage). B. In the most gen. sense, poet. a year. (both brumalis and bruma: LD 252, center column)
The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).
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