Story time! In this post I’m going to have a little chill time with some truth or tale and finish it with a nice little story. I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think.
A lot of islands
With thousands of islands scattered over several seas, Greece has the most islands of any country in the world.
According to worldatlas.com Greece is 10th in line of countries with the most islands with roughly 6000 islands and islets; about 227 of which are inhabited. The first with the most islands is Sweden with approximately 221,800 islands.
Let’s see…6000 islands…3 day island hops….see you in about 50 years 🙂
What did you say?
The official language of Greece was settled upon less than 50 years ago.
It wasn’t until 1976 that Greece declared Demotiki (or Demotic) Greek to be the official language. Until then Ancient Greek was also considered and there are still several regional dialects to this day.
The Amber Mystery
Amber (a fossilized tree resin) usually used for jewellery and small pieces such as komboloi beads, was used to create an entire room that became the center of a great mystery.
In 18th century Prussia a room with amber walls was built that used over 6 tonnes of amber. Despite attempts to protect it, it was dismantled and taken by the Nazi Army Group North and eventually displayed in Konigsberg Castle, Konigsberg Germany. The castle was later destroyed but what happened to the room is still under much debate.
Amber Room reconstruction, Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, Russia
Amber is fossilized tree resin and depending on the quality, age and any inclusions, a komboloi made of amber beads can fetch well into the thousands of dollars. They have a warmth of touch, colour and sound that other beads don’t have. It’s not unheard of for an amber komboloi to be passed down through the generations of a family.
A Long Run
A long long time ago, (even before the internet *gasp!*)…August/September-ish of 490 BC to be almost exact…something pretty intense happened that inspired one of the most respected races of our time….
Out on the Marathon plain, about 25 miles from a young, powerful and attractive city named Athens, a great battle was about to take place.
Depending on which ancient historian/story teller was telling the story (a story-teller has to make a living somehow!), a Persian army of anywhere from 25,000 to 600,000 troops lead by King Darius I landed on the Greek shores at Marathon. King Darius was pretty mad at the Athenians for their involvement in the Ionian Revolt so he planned on invading and enslaving Athens as punishment. Seriously, this King was peeved. This would have been a very bad thing not only for the Athenians, but for all of Greece and the parts of the world to come whose languages, laws and culture developed from them (and my future plans to go on a quest to try as many gyros and Greek coffees…and wines, cheeses, pies, mezedes, tzatzikis, souvlakis, baklavas….. as my tummy will allow!).
On finding out, the Athenians sent a runner named Philippides the roughly 150 miles to Sparta to ask for the help of their army. The Spartans, however, were in the middle of a really great religious festival. The Spartans were in no hurry to cut the festival short…who would when faced with having to go up against a bunch of angry invaders? So the 9 or 10 thousand Athenians aided by the Plataeans (a good bunch of Hoplites out to help a neighbour in need) were pretty much on their own. Long story short, the Athenians and Plataeans flanked the Persians so they couldn’t leave the valley and reach Athens, handed them their butts and sent them on their way…or what was left of them after they also torched their ships.
The Spartans showed up just as the battle was ending and agreed that the Athenians did a good job winning that battle (credit to the Spartans who did actually try to get there and made the 220 km trek in 3 days). While the Athenians and Plataeans set about burying their dead, they sent poor Philippides for another run to tell Athens they won. Legend says Philippides ran back to Athens and pushed himself so hard he barely managed to get the message to the leaders that they won before he collapsed and died (thank goodness we have telephones and internet now).
The Athenians were happy they got to continue life (at least for a while) as Athenians, the Plataeans were happy that the Athenians were so grateful and the Spartans were undoubtedly happy that they managed to avoid the worst of that mess. Philippides, however, was likely not nearly as happy.
The race this whole thing inspired? The Marathon! Conveniently, the battle Philippides ran from and our modern race have the same name…much easier to remember than having a battle at Marathon and calling the race something like The Obsessively-Train-Then-Avoid-Collapsing-From-An-Insanely-Long-Run Race.
Fact or Fiction?
Fact! ….mostly. The race we know as the marathon was in fact, named after the big run to Athens following the Battle of Marathon. The identity of the runner, however, is still under some debate including whether it was an actual runner or the Athens military headed back in an effort to head off another potential attack. Most do seem to agree that there was a runner from Athens to Sparta, though. The actual marathon race came from the desire to acknowledge Athens’ past with a race in the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896.
Today’s fact or fiction is brought to you by sneakers and their stuff! What do sneakers have to do with Komboloi?…no true marathoner would be caught out playing with their komboloi without sneakers. True story!
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think! …or just say “hi”
Have a wonderful day!