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Truth or Tale? A Long Run.

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.

edited by M.Minderhoud [Public domain]

According to 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.

Public domain vector image of people sitting and talking.

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.

jeanyfan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Amber Resin 23 beads 12x14mm Handmade Komboloi - Greek Worry Beads - Rosary
Amber Komboloi by Yiannis Ioannou,

Buy Amber Komboloi on Ebay…hand made since 2003 by Yiannis Ioannou

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.

Public domain image extracted from page 060 of volume 2 of Herodotus. The text of Canon Rawlinson's translation, with the notes abridged by A. J. Grant, British Library HMNTS 9025.bbb.13
The Battle of Marathon

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.

The author died in 1920, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 95 years or less.  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.
The Soldier of Marathon Pheidippides giving word of victory after the Battle of Marathon Luc-Olivier Merson [Public domain]

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!

Cool stuff for your sneakers!

Thank you!

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!

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18 Replies to “Truth or Tale? A Long Run.”

  1. Mariah

    This was a fun read! Thanks for sharing. 6000 islands is certainly a lot! Do you know how many of those islands are inhabited by people on a permanent basis? Does that number include tiny islands or is there a minimum size requirement.

    The amber room is also intriguing. It’s so sad that it was taken by the Nazis and then later destroyed. Even If the castle was destroyed you would think that all that amber would still be there under the rubble for somebody to excavate.

    • Tricia Stuart

      Thanks! No, I don’t know that about the islands, just that 227 of them are inhabited. You’d think there would be something there in the rubble for sure. …if the room was there during the destruction. 😉 Lol.

  2. Wealthfather

    Awesome!What an incredible blog post; Thanks for this wonderful enlightment.This is an expensive information that is very hard to comeby on any blog and i must say its an eye opener for me.

    I am just gettingbto know Greece has the largest of all island in the world, I actually thought its sweeden. I once read that the marathon race was actually named after the big run to Athens following the Battle of marathon but i don’t know it is valid until I took my time to read on your page.

    Thanks for this indepth analysis

  3. Michael

    I so much enjoyed this article. So interesting and captivating.

    I never knew Greece has so much number of island like that and even 227 out of them are being inhabited. So are you saying Demotic Greek is there generally adopted official language?  I am very sure the Catherine palace built with amber in Russia must be under a very tight security, as i presumed it worth would be thousands of million

    • Tricia Stuart

      Thank you! Yes, Demotic (a newer dialect) Greek is the official language. I hope Catherine palace has a heavy guard for that room…it must be amazing to see it in person.

  4. Michael

    Wow! This is a lovely blog post.

    I just got know more about Greece. This is really interesting and educative. But are you saying Sweden is the country having highest number of Islands going by the figure? I never knew how so precious and valuable this Amber is not until I stumble on the post. Thanks for sharing this information.

  5. usman gagi

    Hi Tricia Stuart,

    Thank you for sharing this great informational article about islands.It is really a nice post. 6000 islands is certainly a lot, I am just gettingbto know Greece has the largest of all island in the world. I really learnt great ideas from it, personally. I will definitely be back to your website for some more of your helpful information on a lot of topics.I am bookmarking your article to share with friends.

  6. smshakil

    Hi Tricia

    I have read your article.This is very informative.By reading your article I have learned that in Greece, there are 6000 islands and Greece is very famous for this islands.There are 227 islands where people live. It is a very beautiful place.There are also a valuable item which name is amber.I will share this great article with my friends and relatives.Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article.

  7. cpanharun

    Hi Tricia Stuart,

    Wow! This is an awesome blog post I was impressed by reading this article. I would not even know about this article. This is really interesting and educative. The word ‘Iceland’ was heard only on the face of a snow-covered landscape. Maybe when I read the title of this article, there is nothing like that. But in reality, it is not at all, but it seems that the country is a cold, covered area called ice, but a country is actually a natural form. I’m just getting to realize Greece has the greatest of all island in the universe. I never realize Greece has so many numbers of the island like that and even 227 out of them are colonized. But are you saying Sweden is the country’s highest number of people going by the figure? I highly thinking its Sweden I once read that the marathon race was in reality named after the big run to Athens following the Battle of Marathon. Thanks for sharing this message.

    • Tricia Stuart

      Thank you! I don’t actually know which country has the most people or colonized islands but yes, Sweden has more total islands. 

  8. Ranao

    This is an informative and educative story. The fate of a short story is that, even after the end, it remains. This story spreads the smell like agarbati (one kind of fragrance stick). I’ve read a lot before about Greece and Athens. But today’s reading is unprecedented. The Amber Mystery part is impressive. Fact-fantasy-myth mixed in aesthetic form has emerged. Thanks to Chillout Corner, for a great gift beyond the story. I must tell the story of my children.

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