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Kondyli Press & Olga Bregianni © 2012 Α‘ edition ISBN 978-960-9661-09-6 Title: Greece, the Land of Gods Author: Olga Bregianni Cover design: Photographs: Archeological Receipts Fund (ΤΑΠ), Ilias A. Iliadis Typing: Charys Perdikaris Graphics, DTP: Despoina Vafeidou Production editor: Dimitris Pantelis Kondyli Pinakates, Piliou 370 10 Milies, Greece T/F: +30 24230 86757 This book is published also in Greek language All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or means; electronic, mechanical, or recording by any informatin storage and retrieval system, without written authorization from the copyright holder and the publisher, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in review.


CONTENTS Preface  11

1. Attica  12 Attica  14 a. Athens  16 b. The Acropolis  27 c. The Museum  31

2. Dafni - Elefsina - Salamina - Megara Isthmos  38 Dafni - Elefsina - Salamina - Megara - Isthmos  40

3. Corinth  46 Corinth  48 a. The Archaeological Site  48 b. The Museum  58

4. Mycenae - Argos -Nafplio - Epidaurus  62 Mycenae - Argos - Nafplio - Epidaurus  66 a. Mycenae  66 b. Argos  74 c. Nafplio  76 d. Epidaurus   78

5. Tripolis – Megalopolis - Kalamata  86 Tripolis – Megalopolis - Kalamata  88

6. Olympia  90 Olympia  92 a. Museum   99 b. The Archaeological Site  107


7. Patras – Rio – Antirio – Nafpaktos – Itea Galaxidi  112 Patras – Rio – Antirio – Nafpaktos – Itea - Galaxidi  114

8. Delphi  116 Delphi  118 a. Introduction  118 b. The Archaeological Site  122 c. The Museum  126

9. Levadia – Distomo – Orchomenos – Thebes  130 Levadia – Distomo – Orchomenos – Thebes  132

10. Marathon - Sounio  138 Marathon - Sounio  140 a. Marathon  140 b. Sounio  142

Map of Greece  146 Photography references  149


Preface Greece is a small country. Its surface is 131.000 m2. In other words, it equals Ÿ of France or the state of Alabama in the USA. The Greek nobelist poet George Seferis1 said that on the 6th day of creation God was holding in his hand some earth and pebbles and without knowing where to cast them, threw them in the Aegean Sea and that’s how Greece and its 3.000 islands were created.


Nobel prize for poetry, 1965


1. Attica c. The Museum

b. The Acropolis


a. Athens

... 1. Attica

The Constitution Square and the Parliament

of the two world wars and of Cyprus are carved. They are also two quotes of the epitaph of Periklis – eulogy for the dead of the Athenian army during the 1st year of the Peloponnesian war of the year 431 B.C. One says “ανδρών επιφανών πάσα γη τάφος”, that is “brave men are ecumenical” and the other “μια κλίνη φέρεται των αφανών”, that is “a bed is carried in procession for those lost in battle”, decorated with flowers similar to the later Christian Orthodox tradition of the Christ Epitaph. in Goon Friday evening

Hadrians Gate

The portrait of Melina Mercouri


... 1. Attica

Zappeion Megaro

Lord Byron

Roman baths

The Benaki Museum

Presidential Megaro

Schliemanns’ house, the Numismatic Museum


. 1. Attica

The collection of the Archaic sculptures

of Athens after the Persian wars, the unemployment in the city was up to 50%. He thought then to announce the public works where all citizens had access. He would finance all the public works from the cashier of the Athenian Alliance, a defence alliance against the Persians and for the protection of the Aegean. It had 200 members – mainland city states and islands of the Aegean Sea. The annual income was the astronomical amount of 1.000 golden talanda. Each talando had the buying value of 6.000 sheep. It is the first time in the European history that a president uses money for defence in order to solve out the problem of unemployment. That is the Golden Age of Athens. The Acropolis was built only by free Athenian citizens, paid by the government and that is why it is our national monument. Next to the portrait of Pericles there are samples of the marble archives with the expenses of the construction from the collection of the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. We know for example that the salary of the master sculptor and coordinator of works Phidias was 1 drachma per day and that was the value of 1 sheep, which is approximately ₏ 200 per day. As we enter on both sides we see pre-classical and classical ceramics made with the unique thick, red Athenian clay and the 32

... 1. Attica

The Panathenian procession freeze

amazing glazing on the black colour which only the Athenian artists could achieve so well. On the 1st floor the collection of the Archaic sculptures is unique world-wide. These artefacts of the 7th and 6th century B.C. belonged to temples which the Persians destroyed in 480 B.C., after the battle of Thermopylae. When after the battles of Platea near Thebes in 479 B.C. the Persians withdrew their army to Asia minor, the Athenians returned from Salamina and buried the sculptures in the slopes of the Acropolis, where they were discovered much later after the Greek revolution. Certain statues of the Kores which had been taken to Persia, were brought back by Alexander the Great. The sculptures of the pediments of those destroyed temples depict the fight between evil and good, shown with lions devouring taurus and coves. The collection of the Kores is unique worldwide. They are young Athenians who hold gifts for Athena and kept her company like maidens of honour placed all around the archaic Parthenon. They wear long chitons embroidered with spirals and meanders. Their hair is curly, they wear jewellery and have make-up on their eyes and lips. Further on, we see the oldest rider’s statue of the Greek-roman antiquity. He is the son of the tyrant Pisistratus. Unfortunately, the original head of the rider is in the Louvre, 33


Athens Acropolis Museum-The Hall of slopes (Kliteion) of the Acropolis


... 3. Corinth

The clay ex-vetoes depicting the diseases of the pilgrims.

legend says that one day Helios gave his son his chariot to ride it across the sky. The tameless horses understood they did not have the same rider and either they would go very far from the earth or come very close to it. During that crazy course, the fire-chariot flew very low over northern Africa where it burnt all flora, created the Sahara desert and the black race. The four bronze Roman statues were transferred to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine and used to decorate the hippodrome. In 1.204 A.D. in the 4th crusade, the Venetians transported them to Venice. Later on, Napoleon took them to Paris from where after his Waterloo the Venetians brought them back to their home city and placed them on the façade of St. Mark’s Cathedral. On the east of the market, behind the Bema, were the city archive office buildings. Near them, at 338 B.C. a portico was built to accommodate the delegations of the city states that elected during the famous Council of Corinth, Philip B’ the Macedonian – father of Alexander the Great, king of all Greece. For the first time Greece becomes a United Kingdom. The portico is closed nowadays. However, one can still see pieces of the floor mosaics. Additionally, there are ruins in the market of the temple of Aphrodite and Aries, which are Venus and Mars. Next to the museum is the fountain of Glauki, 55

... 4. Argos - Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus

Acropolis of Mycenae, The lions gate

their ambassador in Athens. The treasure is “casus belli” [cause for war]. The Greek government denies the treasure and so it ends up in Russia via Berlin. Four years after the discovery of Troy, Schliemann comes to Mycenae. The name of the place is the same and the walls evident. Although he had discovered the treasure of Troy, the international archaeological community, still doubts the authenticity of the collection. He needs more proof. The cite of Mycenae does not offer him the proof he needs. The Lions’ Gate stands proud but speechless. The lions, a male and a female, protect the central column of the “megaron” [palace] and place their feet on 2 altars. Their heads are missing but they were there until Roman times in the 2nd century A.D., when the Greek author Pausanias saw them and said that they were looking towards him, without mentioning though, what material they were made of. This sculpture is the 1st royal insignia [coat of arms] in the European world. The lions stand for the physical strength of the kings’ leaders of the army, the altars for the religious power of the king son of Zeus high priest and finally the column of the palace – court of justice, where the kings decided as president of the Supreme Court, that is, the sculpture symbolizes the 3 qualities of the king, as chief-leader of the army, the justice and the religion. 69

... 4. Argos - Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus

The theater of Epidaurus

in, “naus” became “nave” and in English “navy” and “nautical”. The king of Nauplio Palamidis, joined Agamemnon at the Trojan War and with king Ulysses of Ithaca, were the smartest ones of the army. The castle, named after him was designed by the French engineer Lassalle and built at 1705 A.D. It has 7 towers and in order to go up there, one has to climb 999 steps. The construction was financed by Venetians, at the high economic pick of Venice. Venetians conquer harbours from the Turks, build castles in order to secure their dominion and practice duty-free trade, without paying any port authorities. This is the reason for the enormous wealth they gathered in Venice on one hand and on the other hand for the big number of their castles all over Greece. The town of Nafplio hosts some very interesting museums, like the one of Folk Art and the Archaeological Museum, which is housed in the very impressive building of the Venetian Hospital. In it, the admirable collection of Mycenaean ceramics is kept, part of which is a unique clay wine-cooler and one also unique Mycenaean armour. The latter is made with bronze bands, nailed one next to the other, reminding of a Courrege designer dress. 77

. 6. Olympia

dolichos], the shot put, the long jump, wrestling, chariot races, running on foot with a 45-kg full armour on [οπλίτης δρόμοςoplites dromos], Pancras [i.e. wrestling and boxing together], as well as donkey chariot races and many age categories for children, teenagers and adults. All these added up to about 2 full weeks of games in Hellenistic and Roman times. There was no golden or any other prize. Athletes we crowned with the olive reef at Speculation of the statue of Zeus the entrance of the classical temple of Zeus. Today, we can see on the entrance floor the marble mosaic where a silver-ivory table was placed for the champion’s reefs. Inside the temple stood the ivory-golden [chryselephantine] statue of Zeus. It was 12,5 meters – circa 41,25 feet high. The god was sitting in a black ebonywood throne and in his hand was holding a statue of goddess Nike – Victory, which had human size. On the exterior sides of the throne, mythological scenes and moments of the Trojan War were depicted. The artist Phidias had used for them gold, silver, enamel and semi-precious stones. The body of the god inside was made of wood [cidar of Lebanon], on which the skin was done with pieces of ivory, while the chiton was made out of gold. AccordThe head o Hera ing to the Athenian archives for 96

... 6. Olympia

The western pediment

dent of Athens. Miltiades in the month of September of 490 B.C. led the Athenian army to a huge victory at Marathon, which changed the course of history for Greece, Europe and all the western world. Right across there is the only remaining bronze buttering rum in Greece of 5th century B.C. Moving to the next room, we see the marble decorations of the Temple of Zeus. It’s the only entire roof decoration we have in Greece. It was made by local sculptors, using local models. On the eastern pediment we see Zeus in the middle. On his left, king Oenomaos smiles sure of his victory. Next to him are his daughter princess Hypodamea, his chariot, kneeling servants and the local river in the shape of a young man lying on the ground. On the right of Zeus stands Pelops, queen Sterope, the chariot of Pelops, the clairvoyant of the palace, a servant and the river Alpheus. The clairvoyant pulls his beard and in his wide-open

The clairvoyant pulls his beard

The chariot


... 6. Olympia

Centaur grabbing Lapithian woman / Head of Athena, 490 B.C.

God Apollo / Lion head

Centaur attacking Kink Theseus of Athens / King Theseus


. 6. Olympia

eyes he foresees the death of a king. The expression and the motion of the statues are reserved as they were made in that period of time we call Serious or Severe style in the beginning if the 5th century B.C. The 12 metopies below the pediments depicted the works of Hercules. The best preserved ones are the Hydra of Lerna, the Lion of Nemea, the Golden Apples of Hesperides and the Augean’s Stables. Many fragments of those are in the Louvre, since general Maison excavations. The western pediment has god Apollo in the middle, stretching out his hand in order to stop the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths. A Lapith in Greek art is the civilized man, integrated in society and a symbol of all that’s good and ethical, while a Centaur is the man who is half animal, evil and cannot control his beastial inHermes by Praxiteles stincts. That’s how the Greeks depict the battle between evil and good. Here the subject is the party for the engagement of Pearithus to Deedamea. After the Centaurs had drunk a little wine, they wanted the Lapith women, so the party turned into a battlefield where Lapiths are fighting Centaurs and the maids crawl in living-room, horrified with the blood-shed. Finally, good prevailed and the Centaurs drowned in the bay of Corinth. The masterpiece in the museum is a statue of god Hermes by Praxiteles, circa 331 B.C. The god leans against a trunk of a tree, where he has hung his chiton. On his left arm he holds his baby brother – god Dionysus. His right arm is broken, but he was probably holding grapes in order to feed the child. There is a legend which 104

. 8. Delfi

Delphi a. Introduction


The mountain range of mount Parnassus is one of the oldest pleats of our planet, reigns over mainland Greece, has 9 picks higher than 7.000 feet and reaches 2.456 meters altitude, i.e. around 800 feet. It has reach flora and fauna and in the winter months 3 ski stations are in operation. For the ancient Greeks it was the navel of Mother Earth, in other words, the centre of the world. If we consider that the known world for most of the people then was from the Black Sea through the Aegean and the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, we understand that this belief was more a realistic observation than an arrogant thought. From Tauris in the Black Sea, the cotemporary Yalta, until Spain, Greece is almost in the centre of the ancient sea-lines and especially since Periander the Corinthian in the 7th century B.C. connected the Aegean to the Ionian sea with that paved road which crossed the isthmus of Corinth right there where is nowadays the 118

... 8. Delfi

completely its glamour. The Christians engrave crosses on the ancient marble. The big earthquake of 522 A.D. destroyed everything; rocks rolled down the hillside and completed the destruction, while erosion covered the ruins completely with dirt. In the Byzantine period a small village was built right over all this. In 1870 this village was also destroyed by an earthquake. During the restoration works, fragments of ancient marble inscriptions were found. Delphi were at last found. In 1892 the French School of Archaeological Studies is authorised and starts a sysThe charioteer tematic excavation which continues until today. In 1927 the poet Angel Sikelianos and his American wife, lover of Greek antiquity Eva Palmer, revive for the 1st time in Europe the ancient Greek drama with the tragedy of Aeschylus “Prometheus Bound�8 in the theater of Delphi. Today, at the end of the village, we see the European Cultural Centre of Delphi. From the village we have a fascinating view over the bay of Corinth and the port Itea. An oracle given to a military official has remained in our language as an idiomatic expression. That officer went to Delphi on his way to join the army and asked if he would die or return alive. The oracless were always given orally, so that there was no punctuation. This resulted a different interpretations of the same sentence. The oracle 8

The villa of the couple is nowadays a museum where we see not only personal objects but also the costumes worn in that 1st representation made at the loom by Eva Palmer herself. 125

... 10. Marathon - Sounio

Sounion, the temple of Poseidon

king Minus, princess Ariadni. They immediately fell in love and in order to save him she gave him a ball of thread and advised him to attach one end at the handle of the labyrinth door and unfold it while he would advance deep into the labyrinth by following the thread. He followed her advice and after he strangled and killed the Minotaur, easily found his way out of the labyrinth. They left Crete together and in the middle of their sail back to Athens, docked at the island of Naxos so that the crew would get some rest. Ariadni took a walk to the nearby forest, where she met god Dionysus. He gave her wine to drink and she forgot herself completely. Theseus, tired of waiting for her and devastated by her absence, ordered departure1. Before leaving Athens, he had agreed with his father that if he succeeded in his mission, he should change the black sails of his ship into white ones. Because of his grief for Ariadni, he forgot to switch the sails. The moment that his father, who was waiting for him at cape Sounion, saw the ship returning with the black sails still on, thought that his son had died and desperate threw himself at


This myth inspired the famous music composer Johan Strauss fro the musical opera “Ariadni of Naxos�. 143


Greece The Land of Gods  

Preface Greece is a small country. Its surface is 131.000 m2. In other words, it equals of France or the state of Alabama in the USA. The Gr...

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