In antiquity, Greece was a beautiful and diverse country, populated by extremely passionate people. It was home to majestic ruins, extravagant monuments, and awe-inspiring Gods. However, all that changed when the country was ravaged by frequent wars, plagues, and famines. The toll of these wars and catastrophes on the once-grand country is tremendous. For example, archaeological evidence suggests that the population of Athens dropped from nearly 150,000 in the 6th century BC to fewer than 40,000 in the 2nd century AD.
These days, travelling to and from Athens is mostly restricted to foot travel or by boat. The latter is especially so now that major ports and airports, such as Piraeus and Evangelismos, respectively, are on the mainland, in the Peloponnese. Thanks to modern transport, people can now live their lives and visit places such as Greece’s largest museum, the Acropolis, without needing to spend a great deal of time on boats or planes. This makes travel to the country more convenient for both tourists and everyday travelers alike.
However, even today, travel to and from the mainland is not entirely convenient. For example, it is not uncommon for tourists to have their bags lost en route, or for long layovers at the airport. This can be highly frustrating, especially if you are on a tight schedule.
Fortunately, not all is lost. There are still a number of small islands, such as Santorini, that offer travellers seclusion and tranquility. Moreover, archaeological evidence suggests that some of these islands were frequently visited by Greek pirates, who used them as hideouts and rest stops on their routes throughout the Aegean.
It is thus not entirely surprising that Greek Islands still figure prominently in modern literature and legend. For example, in the blockbuster movie, Pirate’s Cove, Johnny Depp plays the legendary pirate, Black Jack, who is based on the historical figure, “Black” Jack Rackham. In the movie, Black Jack and his men attack a merchant vessel and hold the crew hostage. However, in the end, the Captain of the vessel, who is played by Richard Simmons, tricks Black Jack and his crew and manages to convince them that the ship is not worth wrecking, due to its cargo. In other words, the ship and its contents were too valuable to be stolen, and thus the pirates decide to leave, without having their fill of blood.
The Myths And Legends Of The Greek Islands
Like most legends, the myths and legends of the Greek islands are largely based on truth and have roots in historical fact. For instance, the Minotaur, who was half-man, half-bull, was based on the mythological creature, the Minotaur, which was the result of a terrible conflict between Athens and Crete, in the 16th century BC. In fact, many historians believe that the conflicts between these two ancient Greek cities, which eventually led to their collapse, were the main cause of the country’s decline. For more information on the fascinating subject of Greek mythology, visit https://www.ancientgreece.com/blog/greek-myths And stay tuned for more on this topic.
The Fall Of The Roman Empire
According to historians, the Roman Empire declined due to a number of factors, including over-population, corruption, and the rise of paganism. The latter, in particular, was extremely devastating to the well-being of the Roman Empire. This is because ancient Greeks were deeply religious people, who highly valued their Gods and revered them as much as the Romans did.
The ancient writers, Virgil and Lucan, described the impact of pagans on the well-being of the Empire. For example, in his Aeneid, Virgil writes:
- “For what can be more wicked than for men to forsake the gods in whom they believed for the sake of vanity, false pride, and profit?”
- “As a result of their impiety, the Romans suffered the punishment they deserved.”
- “Among the nations they ravaged was the Greek, and in their eyes all Greeks seem to have been guilty of the same crimes as the infamous Thracian women who betrayed Thenaeus to death.”
- “The Greeks, in fact, were the main cause of the decadence and fall of the Roman Empire.”
Similarly, in his Hellenistic History, Lucan, an ancient Roman author who lived in the 3rd century AD, describes the impact of paganism on the Roman Empire as follows:
- “It was at this time that the gods of the Greeks arrived in the country.”
- “Since then, the Romans have persecuted the Christians, who practice their religion openly.”
- “They have also persecuted the followers of all the other gods, who have had to flee to remote regions to save their lives.”
- “The persecutions have lasted so long that even now, centuries later, many of the Greek gods remain exiled.”
These are just two of the many tragedies that befell ancient Greece. The country was eventually swallowed by the Roman Empire, which established the basis for modern Greece. However, the cultural legacy of the Greeks remains deeply-rooted in the country, and is even more prominent today than it was hundreds of years ago.
The Ottoman And Russian Empires
The Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, like their predecessors, the Roman Empire, also suffered greatly due to overpopulation and declining birthrates. However, this demographic catastrophe primarily impacted women, as men were able to find wives, or concubines, among the country’s diverse communities, such as the Greeks, Italians, and Eastern Europeans, who were brought in as indentured servants, or sold into slavery. In other words, the decline of these two great empires was primarily due to demographic collapse.
It is thus not entirely surprising that the modern Greeks refer to their country as “Graeci causa”, or “a country of many causes for which Greece is responsible”. This is because ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western civilization, and even today, its cultural influence is prevalent in the country. Moreover, many historians believe that the decline of the Roman Empire directly led to the Renaissance in Europe. Indeed, many ancient writers, such as Lucan, praised the Renaissance because it restored humanism, which was greatly diminished under the rule of the Romans.
To this day, Greece remains one of the most influential countries in the world, both politically and culturally. And it is not hard to see why. The country is vibrant, with some of the most beautiful women in the world, and offers a spectacular amount of history and adventure.