Greek Tutors Near Me | Online Greek Tutors

greek tutor near me

Are you googling “Greek tutors near me” but get no results? Are you interested in learning modern Greek but there is no language school that offers Greek lessons or any native Greek language instructors in your area? In the digital age, your physical location should not stand between you and your goals. You can teach yourself Greek now from home with Helinika’s video tutorials. The courses include free downloadable materials!

Helinika: Your On-Demand Online Greek Tutor | Greek Tutors Near Me

Helinika is an online platform that offers affordable video courses for learning Greek (hosted on Udemy), along with free resources for practicing what you’ve learned and helpful information about Greece. It also includes an online shop with original designs for unique Greek souvenirs, such as stickers, posters, and postcards. By joining our online Greek courses, you “unlock” the following benefits:

  1. You can watch anytime, anywhere; the videos are available on-demand.
  2. No subscription is required; you pay once and “unlock” all videos.
  3. Free downloadable materials are included; you can download and print 11 documents.
  4. You will gain full lifetime access to all videos.
  5. A certificate of completion will be sent to you from Udemy.

The courses are suited for everyone (children and adults). Students that find the course through Helinika’s website are granted a discount. Receive yours:

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Online Greek Tutors | By joining our Basic Greek course (A1-A2) you will learn:

  • The Greek Alphabet and Pronunciation
  • Reading and Writing in Greek
  • Making Small-Talk in Greek
  • The Present Tense in Greek
  • The Declension of Nouns in Greek
  • The Personal Pronouns in Greek
  • Understanding Small Dialogues and Much More!

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Top 10 Weirdest Births in Ancient Greek Mythology | #GreekMyths

birth of venus

Ancient Greek myths are full of weird birthing stories. From Aphrodite/ Venus, who was the result of a Titan’s castration, to Zeus finding out he is pregnant to Athena after having a headache (yes, the goddess of Wisdom was conceived in the brain), here are the ten weirdest births in ancient Greek mythology!

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Weird Birthing Stories in Ancient Greek Myths:

  1. The Birth of Venus (Aphrodite)
  2. The Birth of Goddess Athena
  3. The Birth of Dionysus
  4. The Birth of Helen of Troy
  5. The Birth of Hercules and Iphicles
  6. The Birth of Apollo and Artemis
  7. The Birth of Zeus’ Siblings
  8. The Birth of Hephaestus
  9. The Birth of Phanes
  10. The Birth of Perseus

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Number 10: The Curious Birth of Perseus

Perseus is the legendary founder of Mycenae and one of the greatest ancient Greek heroes; he is the one who actually killed the snake-haired Gorgon Medusa. Like with most mythical heroes, he was the son of Zeus and a mortal. The mortal was a princess named Danae. Danae’s father, Akrisios, had heard of a prophecy that his future grandchild would kill him. Akrisios locked Danae into a bronze chamber to make sure that she would never get impregnated. Well, that did not stop Zeus from impregnating Danae in the form of golden rain. Princess Danae ended up giving birth alone in the bronze chamber, surprising everyone when they found her with baby Perseus in her arms.

Number 9: Phanes and the Cosmic Egg

Phanes was an ancient Greek deity of procreation in the Orphic cosmogony. He was the generator of life and he might give the answer to the age-old question “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”. Well, according to Phanes’ myth it was the egg that came first. The ancient Greek deity came out of the cosmic egg along with a serpent and became the first king of the universe, long before Zeus took over.

Number 8: The Parthenogenesis of Hephaestus

Hephaestus is the ancient Greek god of crafts, fire, and volcanoes. He was the only Olympian god who had some physical abnormalities. According to Hesiod, this was a result of parthenogenesis – his mother, Hera, conceived him alone. Hera decided to give birth to a son to take revenge on Zeus for being unfaithful.

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Number 7: The Second “Birth” of Zeus’ Siblings

Zeus was the youngest child of Titan Cronus and Rhea. His eldest brothers and sisters, including Hera, Poseidon, and Hestia, were swallowed whole after their birth from their father. Rhea was able to hide baby Zeus before he was consumed alive and, once he grew up, he was able to free his siblings from Cronus’ belly. Zeus’ siblings were basically born twice and from both parents.

Number 6: The Birth of Artemis and Apollo in Exile

Artemis and Apollo are two twin Olympians who were the result of Zeus’ and Letos’ union. Hera, Zeus’ wife, had banned Leto from giving birth on land – whether that was the mainland or an island. However, Leto managed to find refuge on Delos island, which was surrounded by swans. Artemis was born quite easily, but Apollo’s birth lasted nine days and nights, because Hera has abducted Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. According to some variations of the myth, newborn Artemis assisted with the delivery of her twin brother.

Number 5: The Unwanted Birth of Hercules/Heracles and Iphicles

Heracles (also known as Hercules) is one of the most well-known ancient Greek mythical heroes of all times. Since he was the son of Zeus and a mortal, Hera did everything she could to stop his mother Alcmene from giving birth to him and his twin(?) brother Iphicles. Iphicles was actually a brother from another father and was not related to Zeus. Hera did everything she could to slow down the birth of the two brothers and even tied the legs of Alcmene together. The goddess was finally distracted by a servant and Alcmene delivered the babies successfully.

Number 4: The Spectacular Birth of Helen of Troy

Mythical Helen was once considered to be the most beautiful woman on Earth. Her kidnapping sparked the Trojan war, which was the starting point of Homer’s Odyssey. Helen was conceived and delivered under surprising circumstances. Zeus transformed into a swan and mated with a woman named Leda. She then laid eggs that hatched and yielded Helen and her brothers and sisters.

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Number 3: The (Re)Birth of Dionysus

Dionysus is the god of wine and he was later associated with ancient Greek drama. The god was actually born twice. His mother was Semele, a mortal who (unsurprisingly) got impregnated by Zeus, and was targeted by Hera for this exact reason. This time, Hera pretended to be a friend of Semele and asked her about the father of her unborn baby. Semele revealed the true identity of the father but Hera pretended to not believe her. Semele then asked Zeus to tell the world about his son – something that Hera knew would anger him. Zeus sent lightning bolts to Semele, killing her. However, he did not want his unborn child to die as well. He sewed the fetus on his thigh and few months later, Dionysus was born.

Number 2: Athena’s Birth Was a Literal Headache

Goddess Athena was also a result of Zeus’ lust for a mortal woman. This time, the woman was called Metis. Zeus impregnated her but then heard of a prophesy that Metis would give birth to two children; her firstborn would be a girl and she would later give birth to a boy who would overthrow Zeus. The king of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus decided that the best way to protect himself would be to consume pregnant Metis alive. Some months later, Zeus started feeling unwell. He had a terrible headache that felt like something wanted to tear his head apart. Hephaestus then followed Hermes instructions and split Zeus’ head apart to see what the problem was. And that was when goddess Athena jumped out of his head. She was fully grown and already wearing her armor!

Number 1: The Not So Graceful Birth of Venus (Aphrodite)

Aphrodite (or Venus in Latin) is the goddess of beauty and romance. Her birth has been featured in multiple art pieces since the Renaissance, but the reality is that is was not as graceful as it’s been depicted. Aphrodite was the result of the castration of Cronus from the Olympians. Her brothers and sisters threw the severed parts of Cronus in the ocean and she rose from the sea foam.

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Greek Lessons for Au Pairs | Au Pairs in Greece

Many young women and men choose to travel the world by becoming au pairs (seen also as “aupairs” or “au-pairs”). An au pair is a nanny/babysitter or household helper from a different country, who helps the host family learn his/her native language, while practicing the language of the hosts himself/herself.  This is a great way to travel the world, while saving money, learning new languages, and developing important life skills and relationships.

Note: There are many agencies and applications that match au pairs with families. I can’t stretch enough how important it is to do a thorough research before travelling alone to live with a family you’ve never met in person or before hiring someone to take care of your children and live in your house. At the same time, you should be aware of your rights as an au pair and discuss your responsibilities with your host family in advance. Having experience as a babysitter, camp counselor etc. is a great advantage but not always required.

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Benefits of Being an Au Pair | Becoming an Au Pair

As an au pair you will:

  1. Become more responsible. Being responsible is a prerequisite when it comes to taking care of children. However, you will soon realize how much more responsible you will become in the process of taking care of someone else’s children and household.
  2. Make friendships that last. Most au pairs create life-long bonds with their host family. In many cases, they become part of the family and visit them again in the future. Not only that, but there are tight knit au pair communities in every part of the world. Many au pairs spend valuable time with other au pairs in their days off and build friendships that easy.
  3. Learn a language without studying. As an adult, you can’t learn a new language from scratch without studying. However, if you already have a basic understanding of the local language (A1-A2), you will be able to practice while speaking with your host family and the rest of the locals. You will basically immerse yourself in the language and you wont have to spend hours studying alone in your room.

Reasons to Work as an Au Pair in Greece | Au Pairs in Greece

As an au pair in Greece you will:

  1. Travel to your dream location without spending money; you will earn money.
  2. Start communicating in Greek, one of the oldest languages in the world.
  3. Experience the Greek “philoxenia”, hospitality.

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Greek Lessons for Au Pairs | Learn Greek Online with Helinika

When a Greek family looks for a foreign au pair, they probably want you to speak your local language with their children. In this way, they can learn your language in a natural, immersive way. At the same time, it is important that you know at least the basics of the Greek language. The hosts will probably choose an au pair that speaks Greek over someone who doesn’t, even if the goal of having an au pair is to help the children learn your native language. If you daydream about becoming an au pair in Greece but Greek “is all Greek to you”, don’t be discouraged. Learning the basics of a language doesn’t always require spending a lot of hours/money in private language schools or tutors. You can teach yourself Greek at home with easy-to-follow video tutorials! Helinika has a complete video course series for learning Greek that can help you learn Greek in two months (on average). By registering through the following button, you will be able to receive a significantly lower price (special for au pairs). The course includes:

  • Full lifetime access;
  • 11 downloadable resources;
  • Certificate of completion!
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Homer’s Odyssey Part 4 | Books 13-16 | #GreekMyths

odyssey part 4

Last time we followed Odysseus in the kingdom of the dead and we learned how he was able to save himself from the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis. What will happen next? Today we will cover the fourth part of Homer’s Odyssey. Make sure to stay till the end and comment down below your thoughts after watching this video. And subscribe for more videos on Greek mythology!

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“The Odyssey” Book 13: Odysseus Reaches Ithaca

The 13th book of Odysseus’ journey starts in present time, with the Ithacan king finishing narrating his adventures in front of the people of Phaeacia. The hospitable islanders sympathized with Odysseus and they offered him a boat ride home, along with various gifts and resources. Odysseus thanks king Alcinous and the rest of the Phaeacians and gets on board. The boat finally arrives at Ithaca the next day, while Odysseus is asleep. The Phaeacians leave Odysseus on the shore and return to their peaceful island. Soon enough, Poseidon notices that they helped Odysseus reach Ithaca and he gets filled with anger. After asking permission from Zeus, god Poseidon turns the Phaeacian ship into stone few moments before it arrives in the harbor. As a result, the ship sinks and the Phaeacians who helped Odysseus reach Ithaca were never seen again. King Alcinous realized that helping Odysseus enraged the gods and swore to never help strangers ever again.

At the same time, king Odysseus wakes up and finds himself on a land he could not recognize. Goddess Athena appears in front of him as a shepherd and explains to him that he is indeed in Ithaca and that his people need him. Odysseus at first tries to conceal his identity, the goddess reveals her identity and advices him to use his tricks to eradicate the suitors who conspire against him and his son. To protect him, she transforms him into an old man and leaves Ithaca to go find Telemachus in the Peloponnese region.

“The Odyssey” Book 14: Eumaeus, The Loyal Friend

The transformed king of Ithaca follows Athena’s advice and hides into a hut that belongs to Eumaeus, a local farmer and loyal friend of Odysseus. There he meets Eumaeus, who not only feeds the transformed Odysseus but confesses to him how much he misses the king of Ithaca and how much he detests the men who have taken over his palace, trying to convince Penelope to marry one of them. Odysseus promises Eumaeus that his beloved king will return – his own identity is not revealed yet. He narrates a different story regarding his background and finally learns that his son is in danger, since the suitors are conspiring to kill him. Once the night arrives, Odysseus sleeps in the hut and Eumaeus tends to his herd.

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“The Odyssey” Book 15: Telemachus Returns

While Odysseus sleeps, goddess Athena find Telemachus in the Peloponnese region and urges him to travel back to Ithaca to prevent his mother from marrying a suitor. She warns him of the dangers he might face and suggests that he visits Eumaeus first and let him visit Penelope to announce his return. As he leaves, an eagle flies off holding its pray. Is this a sign?

Back in the hut, Odysseus learns about the death of his mother and how lonely his father, Laertis, is. Eumaeus then narrates his own story. He was abducted by pirates when he was a child. King Laertis purchased him to save him and Odysseus’ mother raised him. While the farmer narrates his story to the transformed Odysseus, Telemachus arrives on the island.

“The Odyssey” Book 16: Father and Son Reunite

The young prince of Ithaca reaches Eumaeus’ hut, where he is greeted by the friendly farmer and is introduced to his father who had the appearance of an unrecognizable old man.  Odysseus soon understands that his son does not feel confident enough to stand against the suitors. With Athena’s intervention, Odysseus regains his appearance and reveals his true identity to his son. The men embrace and cry together. United they can eradicate the hundreds of suitors that roam the palace. Father and son spend the whole night talking and coming up with the right plan that can help them regain power over their palace.

Will they succeed? Can father and son win against hundreds of suitors? If you are interested in hearing the rest of the story, don’t forget to subscribe (free). Also, if you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like, comment and share.

Now, before you go, I need to make an important announcement. In case you don’t know this already, helinika offers a complete video course for learning Greek. Well, if you are a subscriber you can now benefit from a lot; you can watch the course with a discount, just by clicking on the link in the description down below! Last but not least, feel free to check helinika’s shop, where you will find some unique Greek-inspired artwork, tote bags, reusable bottles, and notebooks, all designed by me.  

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Greek Lessons for Erasmus Students | Erasmus in Greece

Are you preparing for your Erasmus semester in Greece? Is it your dream to study the classics in Athens or spend an adventurous semester on a Greek island? Then you might be wondering whether it is necessary to speak, write, and read in Greek on a proficient level.

The short answer to this is: no, it is not necessary. There are plenty of classes and seminars or entire programs that are held in English in Greek Universities. At the same time, most people can communicate in English. So, learning Greek is not a matter of survival.

But you should ask yourself:

  1. Is it possible to get the ultimate Greek experience without speaking the language?
  2. Will you be able to hangout with the local students?
  3. Are all the classes you are interested in available in a language you are familiar with?

Greek Lessons for Erasmus Students | Greek for Erasmus

If you are interested in spending a semester in Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, or any other place in Greece? Then you should consider getting started with at least the basics of the Greek language. And once you finally land there, you will be able to immerse yourself in Greek by attending classes, seminars, and by building relationships with Greek people.

We understand that learning Greek might be more challenging than learning French, Spanish, or Italian. And that is not necessarily because of the complexity of the language – once you get familiar with the alphabet, the rest will unfold- but mostly because of the lack of language schools that include Greek in their curriculum. The same goes with native Greek language instructors – they are not a lot out there. And here is where Helinika comes into place with its complete video course that is perfect for Erasmus students.  You can now teach yourself Greek with easy-to-follow videos and learn one of the oldest languages in the world anytime, anywhere. All you need is access to a computer or a tablet.

Start learning Greek now and prepare for an exciting semester in Greece! Greek lessons for Erasmus students:

Pandora’s Jar and The Lost Paradise | #GreekMyths

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Most cultures and religions have a story that explains all the suffering and negative things that exist on this planet; from diseases and natural disasters to jealousy, crime, and any sin committed by humans.  The ancient Greeks had coined the myth of Pandora and her box/jar*.

Key Parts in The Myth of Pandora’s Box/Jar

As with most Greek myths, we know the story of Pandora from the ancient Greek poet Hesiod. Let’s see the most important parts of the myth:

  1. Pandora was a woman created by a god (Hephaestus) on the instructions of another god (Zeus);
  2. She was given various traits that were neither good nor evil;
  3. She had free will;
  4. She was given a jar, but she was warned to never open it;
  5. The woman opened the jar out of curiosity and the entire human race was damned.

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Different Variations of Pandora’s Myth

Hesiod narrates the myth of Pandora in two different works: “Theogony” and “Works and Days”. In “Theogony”, Pandora did not obtain any box or jar. She was created by the gods to collect all their blessings, after Prometheus stole the fire from Olympus and offered it to humans. She was the perfect human and the rest of humanity was jealous of her. In Greek, her name (Πανδώρα) means exactly that – she who bears all gifts/blessings**.

In “Works and Days”, the most popular variation of the myth, Pandora was created by the gods of Olympus to punish humans for using the element of fire to their advantage, without taking the blame themselves. The woman was given a jar (pithos) that contained all evils. Pandora opened the jar and accidentally released these evils. Humanity lost its Paradise and nothing was ever the same. Thankfully, one thing remained into the jar and was never released. That was hope – the belief that things will get better. And this is why humanity continues working hard and trying to make innovations that will better people’s lives; because they hope that better things can happen.

Over the years, many different variations of the myth have surfaced. The main similarity among all of them is that Pandora, a female, was a punishment for mankind.

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What Does Pandora’s Box/Jar Symbolize?

Pandora’s myth is one of the most difficult myths to interpret. Till today, classical scholars fail to agree on a specific interpretation. British scholar Martin Litchfield West has concluded that Hesiod’s myth is a combination of various different myths that did not survive through the years. It is indeed a very difficult myth to understand, but here are the most common interpretations of Pandora’s story:

  1. Pandora represents the misogynistic belief that women are the “root of all evils”.
  2. Curiosity can lead to tragedy (for both males and females).
  3. Technological advancements can have a negative effect on people’s lives (this is depicted by a) Pandora being a crafted, un-naturally born human and b) humans being punished for using fire to their advantage).

Of course, there are countless more interpretations of the myth. Do you know any? Leave a comment down below!

What Is The Connection Between Pandora and Eve?

If you haven’t noticed already, Pandora’s myth bears many similarities with the Judeo-Christian story of Adam and Eve. Both stories, whether they refer to true events or not, belong to the “theodicy” category, meaning that they explain why there is evil in the world and why (a) good god(s) permit(s) bad things to happen to good people.

Similarities between Pandora and Eve:

  1. Pandora and Eve are both divine creations living in paradise;
  2. Both women have free will but use it to do harm not good;
  3. Both myths bear a contradiction: the women had free will, however they did not mean to do harm;
  4. Misogynistic ideas can be derived from both stories (e.g. women are inferior to men, women cannot be trusted, women were created to tempt/punish men etc.).***

Differences between Pandora and Eve:

  1. Unlike Eve, Pandora was not tricked by an evil entity.
  2. Eve was punished for being curious and for disobeying God, while Pandora is the actual punishment. In Pandora’s story, people are being punished for their over-ambition and for having an advantage over the rest of the creatures living on Earth.

What are your ideas on Pandora’s myth? Do you see any connection with Adam and Eve? Comment your ideas down below.

*The original myth mentions a jar (pithos); the translated version by Erasmus of Rotterdam (16th century AD) mentioned a box.

**Certain scholars believe that the proper translation is “all-giving”.

***Hesiod himself has expressed misogynistic ideas when describing Pandora in Theogony: “(…) From her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”

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How to Travel to Greece and NOT Be a Tourist |Advice by a Local

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Disclaimer: The video was filmed in May 2020 – a time when humanity was plagued by a global pandemic that halted travel from country to country and any type of large gatherings. However, some of you might be able to travel to Greece this year or you are already planning your vacation for next year. Nevertheless, this video provides general information regarding your trip and does not cover the things you should consider when traveling during the pandemic. For more information on this subject, check your local travel advisories and the website of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).

Visit Greece Like a Local | Greece Travel Advice

Greece is one of the most visited countries in Europe, with over 20 million tourists arriving in the country every year. It is a relatively affordable and safe country with a rich history, warm and sunny weather, breathtaking  sceneries, and a long tradition of hospitality.

Many people can only stay in Greece for a few days and visit only the most well-known sights, such as the Acropolis of Athens, and the typical Cycladic islands with the white and blue houses, such as Santorini and Mykonos. If you are planning on staying in Greece for more than a couple of weeks either during your summer holidays, a semester abroad or as an au pair, you might want to experience Greece from a local’s perspective.

Here is what you should consider if you want to travel to Greece and NOT be a tourist:

  1. Start with the city of Athens and explore the countryside
  2. Avoid staying at a resort – choose a small hotel instead
  3. Connect with a local – Eat like a local
  4. Follow the Greek time schedule
  5. Learn some basic Greek

Start with the city of Athens and explore the countryside

Flying directly to an island or a seaside location might be the best option for someone who wants to soak up some sun and spend a relaxing vacation by the sea. If you want to get the full Greek experience though, consider spending a couple of days in Athens, the capital city of Greece. Why? Because nearly half of the country’s population lives there. By understanding the urban culture of Greece, you will understand the country better. 

There are plenty of things you can do in Athens. Visiting the Acropolis hill, the ancient Agora, and the Museum of Acropolis is a must. However, how about visiting Benaki Museum – the museum of Greek culture? Or what do you think about a bike ride in Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation; a day of thrift shopping in Omonoia and Monastiraki. A morning shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables in one of the various outdoors markets. And getting some affordable bites and drinks in Metaxourgeio and a tour with the tram on Poseidon’s highway – the road that connects the port of Piraeus with the “California style” south west suburbs of Athens. And going out for cocktails at the small bars on the streets next to square Klafthmonos. And what about getting some fresh air by visiting Mount Penteli or Mount Parnitha – the “magic” mountains of Athens. Stay tuned because we will be talking specifically about Athens in the near future!

Now, once you have experienced living in the city – including using the public transport and seeing the ups and downs of Athens – it is time for some exploration. You may choose the Cyclades, the sunny islands of the Aegean sea, or the “greener” islands of the Ionian. Or you might want to visit South Pelion and combine mountain and island life at once. Chalkidiki, the Peloponese region, Creta… the list goes on. All parts of Greece are beautiful and worth a visit. Whichever area you choose, I am sure you will have a great time. If you want to live like a local though, here is what you should avoid:

Staying at a resort?

There are many luxurious, all-inclusive resorts in Greece that can be the best option for someone who wants to spend some relaxing time with their family. However, if you would like to blend-in with the locals and experience Greece to the fullest, staying in a family-owned hotel (or Airbnb, if it seems appropriate) might be a better solution.

Not only you will get to support different local businesses instead of spending your entire budget in one place, you will also get to observe the locals’ habits, eat the authentic Greek cuisine, and listen to Greek music, instead of the music of your home country. You might also get the chance of meeting a local.

Connect with a local – Eat like a local

Greek people are generally very approachable and hospitable. Being offered free dessert, drinks, or fruits after a meal at a local taverna is quite common. Business owners might start chatting to you; this is often perceived as a “marketing trick” to lure the customers into spending more of their money, however, you have to remember that most small business owners do not necessarily have a business diploma. They might simply be interested in you and your life, since you are coming from a different country.

If you engage in the conversation, you might be lucky enough to get invited in their house and dine with them and their family. And trust me, when Greeks expect visitors, they prepare a LOT of food. The dishes are placed in the middle of the table and you are free to fill your plate as many times as you want.

One thing you will realize after getting in touch with the locals in Greece is that there is a different concept of time. And that is why you should:

Follow the Greek Concept of Time

When I moved from Greece to central Europe, I was surprised to hear that many people my age chose to wake up at five and six o’clock in the morning every day, without being forced to. In Greece, I was considered a morning person for waking up at seven or eight. And, indeed, what is considered early or late changes from country to country.

In Greece, when people say that they will meet you at noon, they don’t necessarily mean at 12.00 pm. Noon is usually when the sun is too bright – usually between 12 and 15.00 in the winter and 12.00 to 17.00 in the summer. Afternoon is around 18.00 and evening around 20.00. It is common for people to eat dinner at 20.00 or 21.00 pm and going out for drinks is usually after 22.00. If you are planning to go clubbing, you might be surprised to find out that being there at midnight is considered early.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that, it is generally acceptable to be late for five, ten, fifteen minutes. However, being punctual is very important when you are going for a job interview! In Athens, due to the traffic, buses and trolleys can often be very late. That doesn’t apply to the underground though. In general, being flexible with time will make your life easier in Greece. The same goes for making plans; being spontaneous is more common than planning weeks ahead.

Speak Greek with the Greeks

And now we get to the most important tip that will help you have the ultimate Greek experience: speak Greek with the Greeks. Of course, if you have no previous knowledge of Greek, you might want to start with some basic words and phrases. How to say “yes” and “no”, how to greet people on the street and order something at the taverna or the bar. People will be positively surprised and you might meet some new people this way.

If you are interested in learning Greek (either a few phrases or completing an entire level in Greek), Helinika can help you with some VERY affordable on-demand video courses.  Watch the first video for free and decide for yourself! As a registered student, you will receive a 100% FREE e-book and you can always contact us with questions regarding your assignments – as if you have your own personal tutor! (just much cheaper and available anytime, anywhere).

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The 12 Olympian Gods | Greek Gods Family Tree: From The Titans to The Olympians | #GreekMyths

There are many Greek gods and goddesses – it is called polytheism after all. We have talked about Persephone, Hecate, and Pluto. But there are twelve names that everyone who has studied Greek mythology knows.  Today we will be talking about the 12 gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus and how they are related to each other.

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The 12 Olympian Gods and Goddesses | The Major Olympian Deities

2.918mMount Olympus is a real mountain located in Thessaly, Greece. In fact, it is Greece’s highest mountain (2.918 m) and a national park since 1938. As you can imagine, ancient Greeks must had been very impressed when looking at this breathtaking view. They believed that this was the home and observatory of their gods and goddesses. The latter are known ever since as the twelve Olympian gods. The Greek Dodekatheon in the beginning consisted of six male and six female deities. When Hestia offered her throne to Dionysus, Mount Olympus was dominated by men.

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The Greek Dodekatheon consisted of:

  1. Zeus
  2. Hera
  3. Poseidon
  4. Demeter
  5. Athena
  6. Apollon
  7. Artemis
  8. Ares
  9. Aphrodite
  10. Hephaestus
  11. Hermes
  12. Hestia (her place was later given to Dionysus)

As you can see, Pluto, Persephone, and Hecate are not among the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses. In fact, there are several ancient Greek deities who consist the Greek pantheon.  However, these twelve gods are the ones that were the most popular. And we know this because there was an altar for twelve gods and goddesses in the ancient agora of Athens. The altar was set up in 522 BC by the grandson of the tyrant Pisistratus who bore the same name. The altar was not only used for worshipping these twelve gods and goddesses; it was also a place where people would seek supplication and refuge.

The Genealogy of the Olympians | Greek Gods Family Tree

What are the origins of the Olympian gods and goddesses? How are they related to each other?

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Cronus: The Vicious Patriarch

The first generation of the Olympian gods and goddesses are descendants of the Titans. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, the Titans were children of the Sky (Uranus) and the Earth (Gaia) and the deities that ruled the world before the Olympians. Their leader was Cronus, a cold-hearted, blood-thirsty tyrant who ate his own children. His wife was Rhea, another Titan and also one of his sisters.

The reason Cronus consumed his offspring was because of a prophecy that wanted him dethroned by one of them. He had done the exact same thing to his own father Uranus with the help of his mother, Gaia, so the scenario did not sound unfamiliar.

Cronus had six children with Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Pluto, Poseidon, and Zeus – the youngest one. After hearing the prophecy that one of these children would dethrone him, Cronus did the unthinkable: he consumed his five older children alive; he did not chew them, he swallowed them whole. Zeus was a little baby at that time and he was breastfeeding when his siblings were eaten alive.

Once Rhea realized what her husband had done to the rest of their children, she was appalled. She wanted revenge but also to protect her youngest son; but she knew that Cronus was the most powerful Titan. He was blood-thirsty and willing to kill anyone who would try to take over his power. And that is when she orchestrated her plan to take Cronus down. It would take years but she was determined to do everything in her power to succeed in this.

The first thing she did was to hide Zeus in a place that was unreachable by Cronus. She went to the sacred Minoan cave of Psychro – also known as Dictaeon Antron- and hid the baby in there. A goat* named Amalthea became the baby’s foster mother, providing him with milk. Zeus was also protected by the Kouretes, a group of mighty Cretan soldiers who danced and shouted louder than the infant’s cries. Nowadays, Kouretes are a traditional dancing group for men in Creta.

Once Rhea returned to her husband, he demanded to bring him Zeus for dinner. The female Titan was already prepared for this: she had wrapped a piece of rock in a blanket and offered it to Cronus instead of the baby. Cronus consumed the rock and continued on with his life, thinking that none of his children could succeed him.

The Titanomachy and The New Generation of Gods and Goddesses

Years past by and Zeus grew up and became the powerful and cunning god we all know. He knew he wouldn’t be able to take his father down by himself, so he organized a plan to free his siblings from his father’s stomach.

Pretending he is someone else, he offered Cronus a herbal-based potion that caused him to get sick to his stomach. Since Cronus hadn’t chewed his children, Hestia, Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, and Pluto managed to escape**.

What followed was a ten-year war between the Olympians and the Titans, known as the “Titanomachy”. The battles took place in Thessaly and resulted in the victory of the Olympians who not only overthrew Cronus but managed to castrate him. According to Hesiod, this action resulted to the birth of Aphrodite. However, according to Homer, the goddess of love and beauty was the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

The Rise of The Gods and Goddesses of Mount Olympus

After the war, the Titans were locked in Tartarus, the darkest part of the underworld and the Olympians took over Mount Olympus. Zeus and Hera got married and became the king and queen of the gods. Zeus in particular became the ruler of the sky and the earth and was given the lightning as a weapon. Pluto*** became the ruler of Hades, the underworld, and Poseidon took over the seas. Pluto was considered a chthonic deity after taking over Hades; therefore, he was not considered as part of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses.

Since we are going to be talking about the different gods and goddesses on separate occasions, let’s see how all of the twelve gods and goddesses were related to each other.

Siblings: Zeus, Demeter, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, (Pluto), Aphrodite

Spouses: Zeus and Hera

Children: Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Athena, (Persephone) etc.

Note1: The gods and goddesses in brackets are chthonic deities and not part of the twelve gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus.

Note2: Only Hephaestus and Dionysus were children of Zeus and Hera; Zeus had many extramarital affairs that resulted in pregnancies (Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus etc.), while some of the children

*other sources mention a nymph.  

**there are other variations of the myth that want Zeus conducting a C-section to his father and rescuing his siblings.  

***Also known as Hades; Hades is the name of the underworld.

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Hecate: Goddess of Witchcraft, Ghosts, and Necromancy | #GreekMyths

Like Persephone, who was the queen of the underworld, Hecate, a daughter of two Titans, was considered a chthonic divinity; meaning that she spent most of her time under the surface of the Earth. She is often depicted holding a torch and a key. That is because she was able to unlock the gates between different realms – allowing people to communicate with the souls of the dead and supernatural beings from different realities.

Hecate as a Goddess of Necromancy

Due to her ability to create portals and points of connections between different realms, Hecate was considered to be the goddess of Necromancy. Necromancy is the practice of communicating with the dead to reveal secrets about the past, the present, and the future. This was a common practice in ancient Greece; visiting oracles for guidance was generally accepted and Hecate was a well-perceived and respected goddess. The ancient “mediums” would communicate not only with the spirits of the dead but also with the gods to receive information that would be taken into consideration for important strategic decisions.

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Ghosts in Ancient Greece

Since necromancy is associated with ghosts, the souls of the dead, Hecate was also the goddess of ghosts. Ghosts in ancient Greek were neither bad nor good. Sometimes they helped people make important decisions with prophecies, other times they would cause panic. And the most popular evil ghost of ancient times was Taraxippus – the ghost often caused panic to horses during horse races and battles. The ghosts were also blood-thirsty, similar to vampires, and if someone needed to consult them, sacrificing an animal was usually required.

Hecate as a Goddess of Witchcraft and Witches

Hecate was also the goddess of witches, witchcraft, and magic. She had a familiar which was a dog and not a cat! The goddess was nocturnal and knew a lot about herbs. She was therefore able to craft potions and medicines.  Dandelion, garlic, and lavender are some of the herbs that are associated with her. She is believed to give blessings to witches by offering her knowledge and rumor has it that she lurks in crossroads. Even today, crossroads in Greece are believed to be places that are favored by witches.

Hecate’s Cult

Hecate had many followers in ancient Greece and her shrines were often placed at a home’s doorway or at public crossroads. In ancient Athens, a pillar dedicated to the goddess was located in a crossroad that led to the Acropolis, the sacred rock of Athens. Sanctuaries of the goddess were found in the town of Lagina, in Argolis, on the island of Aigina and many other places. In the island of Samothrace, people would often use a ritual that involved Hecate that was believed to protect them from storms and other terrors. The rituals unfortunately involved the sacrifice of dogs.

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Hekate’s Deipnon

Deipnon in Greek means dinner. Every new moon, Ancient Athenians would honor Hecate and the souls of the dead by serving an additional meal for her. Hecate’s deipnon was also used as a method of purification of the house – a way to appease any angry ghosts that were roaming the house.

Ancient Greek Witchcraft, Curses, and Spells

Archaeological findings have shown that ancient Greeks often practiced witchcraft and cast spells/curses to win a battle, attract a love interest, make money, and generally succeed in life. The process involved writing spells or curses on tablets and/or use figurines that could be compared to voodoo dolls. These objects would be thrown into the graves of those who had recently passed-away.

The ancient Greeks believed that the souls of the dead were messengers between different realms – the ones who recently died would carry these messages with them to the underworld and then Pluto, Persephone, Hecate or any other chthonic divinity would use their powers in favor of the spell caster. It is not clear whether the latter would have to pay a “price” for the “service”.

 A great example would be the discovery of 30 curse tablets in a well in the ancient Greek cemetery of Kerameikos. The people who cast the curses were asking for the help of various chthonic gods and goddesses. You can find images here (the text is in Greek). Although witchcraft was generally accepted, “black” magic and casting curses were not only considered unethical, but also illegal. However, in ancient Athens, there was one exception:  before a battle, all Athenians would be invited for a public curse session against the enemy (source also in Greek).

*Often spelled Hekate.

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Writing Greek on Paper

greek handwriting

Writing Greek on paper is different from typing Greek on a computer.

Although most of Helinika’s visitors have no problem typing the Greek letters, they often find it difficult to write those letters on paper. That is why we prepared a short video on our YouTube channel that you can use to mimic a common writing style for the Greek letters. It goes without saying that there are many more handwritings out there and you can develop yours with a lot of practice. Writing in a different alphabet is not easy but it is definitely worth the effort!

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Writing the alphabet on paper:

Writing random Greek words on paper:

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