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Sparta Journal > Discovering Ancient Spartan and Greek History March 23, 2008

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Sparta Volume 3 No 2. Discovering Ancient Spartan and Greek History > The second issue of the Sparta Journal, magazine’s third volume, continues to be a unique journey to ancient Spartan history.

Markoulakis Publications have produced the second issue of the third volume (volume 3 no. 2) of the printed and online educational periodical entitled Sparta. The periodical is accessible for review purposes for all visitors to the following website > www.sparta.markoulakispublications.org.uk.

Read about the decision-making of Sparta and answer the question: what was the theory that propelled Sparta into war? Read the answer written by Nikolaos Markoulakis.

Did the Kings of Persia seek to win hearts and minds as they extended their empire? Cyrus, in 546BC, defeated Croesus, King of Lydia, and swiftly overran the Greek cities of Ionia. Four years of bitter fighting ensued (498-494 B.C.) before King Darius was finally
victorious. Travelling with Xerxes on his march to Greece was ex-king Demaratus of Sparta. Should that king be Leotychides, or the much more respected Leonidas? Was there any hope of stopping Xerxes? Read the answers written by Robert Montgomerie.

In the Odyssey, Telemachus, searching for news of his father’s return from the Trojan war, visits King Menelaus and Queen Helen at Sparta. Explore the King Menelaus’ palace complex with the assistance of Robert Montgomerie.

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “Doric Philosophy”. The Doric Greeks of Crete and Laconia did practice philosophy and may be the founders of Greek philosophy. First, this article is about doing forensics; rediscovering Doric philosophy. It is about restoring some things that have been lost or obscured. Second, this is a “general overview” article. This article doesn’t go into detail but covers rapidly many points and ties them together into a coherent whole. This article is about generating interest and further research and speculation. By W. Lindsay Wheeler.

Focusing on an unusual 6th century monument discovered in Sparta, this article seeks to identify the two couples depicted on its broad sides and the function of the standing snakes on its flanks. The aim of the article is not only to resurrect discussion of this highly unusual monument after a period of neglect, but to bring to the readers’ attention, with both text and images, some aspects of Spartan visual culture in the 6th century with which they may not be familiar. Written and illustrated by Jane E. A. Anderson.

The periodical is available for subscribers in both print and electronic versions. To view the subscription rates and prices, visitors should go to the Sparta website and follow the Subscribe & Order link. This will direct them to the subscribers’ choices and prices. The website electronic payments use Paypal.

Sparta (ISSN 1751-0007) is an incorporated title with the Journal of Laconian Studies (ISSN: 1749 5814) and the former Sparta’s Journal (ISSN 1747-0005). The free electronic version of Sparta’s Journal is available on the Sparta website under the Volume’s Archive link. The website also offers a great number of free monthly articles, news and announcements that focus on Spartan and ancient Greek history.

Sparta also introduced a series of supplements, which will cover concisely important issues of the ancient Spartan society by original academic research material -more information at > http://www.sparta.markoulakispublications.org.uk/?s=supplement

For further information > www.markoulakispublications.org.uk

Ancient Mycenaean harbour town discovered in Greece March 20, 2008

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Archaeologists recently announced what they call a ‘remarkable find”, the discovery of a relatively intact Mycenaean settlement, dating from 3,500 years ago, in the southern part of Greece.

The site, called Korphos-Kalamianos, is partly underwater and lies along an isolated and rocky shoreline in the Saronic Gulf in the western Aegean Sea, about 100 kilometres southwest of Athens and about 40 miles (65 km) east of Mycenae, one of the major Mycenaean capitals when Korphos-Kalamianos was active. Considered by archaeologists to have been a military outpost, the entire town’s plan is preserved and consists of more than 900 walls, as well as building remains and alleyways and streets.

The discovery is remarkable because it is so well-preserved and over the ground. Usually, Mycenaean sites, built in the Late Bronze Age, are covered underneath soil and archaeologists have to dig underground to discover them. The Mycenaean civilization thrived in Greece between 1600 and 1100 BC. It was the historical setting of Homer’s epics and many ancient Greek myths.

Though the settlement was built 3,500 years ago, hundreds of walls are still standing. The site is unique because the remains of most Mycenaean towns are completely buried by now under a few millennia’s worth of dirt and detritus. This one stands above ground, with many walls incredibly intact.

Although historians debate whether or not the Trojan War was a real event (many think the stories of Helen of Troy and the Trojan horse are likely myths), if it did occur, it would have been shortly after Korphos-Kalamianos was built. Though Korphos-Kalamianos did not seem to have a palace, many of the structures were built in palace-style architecture, leading the scientists to think that nobles or representatives of the King would have stayed there.

Ithaca was Homeric land of Odysseus March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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Study refutes Cephalonia theory > Greeks yesterday hailed a new study showing the modern-day island of Ithaca is the same as that of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus, rejecting a recent British theory that pointed to a nearby island.

British researchers last year claimed they had solved an intriguing classical puzzle, saying the Kingdom of Ithaca was located on another Ionian island, further west. «This new study shows how wrong and inaccurate the British theory is» Ithaca councilor and former island Mayor Spyros Arsenis told Reuters of the study conducted by Greek geology professors and other scientists over eight months. Arsenis also heads the island’s Friends of Homer Society.

The British study, which suggested that Homer’s Ithaca was actually part of what is modern-day Cephalonia, had enraged islanders who are fiercely proud of their renowned ancestor, the wiliest of the ancient Greek writer’s epic heroes.

The British team suggested that drilling showed the Paliki peninsula on Cephalonia may have once been an island and that it better matched Homer’s description of the homeland which Odysseus left behind to fight in the Trojan War. «The new Greek study shows… the geological formations could not have been formed in just 3,000 years and there is no evidence of any sea channel» Arsenis said.

The study will be officially presented next week. The island’s local council also welcomed the results. «This study rules out once and for all the theory that the Paliki peninsula was once a separate island. It is a slap in the face for the British researchers» it said in a statement.

Finding ancient Ithaca could rival the discoveries in the 1870s of ancient Troy on Turkey’s Aegean coast and the mask of Agamemnon, who led the Greek forces against the Trojans. No one knows for certain whether Odysseus or his city really existed.

The discovery of the ruins of Troy, where Odysseus, Achilles, Paris, Menelaus and other Greek heroes did battle, has led scholars to believe there is more to Homer’s tales than just legend.

In search of the ancient Minoans March 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology, Hellenic Light Europe.
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Archaeologist Nikolaos E. Platon (1909-1992), a native of the island of Cephalonia, was an expert in Minoan civilization who undertook many excavations in Boeotia, Evia, Fthiotida, the Sporades and Crete.

It was he who discovered the fourth Minoan palace and surrounding settlement, bringing to light a large number of exhibits, many of which are now in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion in Crete.

In a lecture at the Hellenic Center, London, his son Lefteris, professor of prehistoric archaeology at Athens University, said he hoped that some of these could be transferred to the Siteia Museum. Lefteris Platon’s lecture for the Greek Archaeological Committee of Britain was held on February 20.

He described the work carried out by his father and the exploration that continues to this day, which he himself leads. Professor Platon presented a large number of slides showing Linear A inscriptions, gold and other objects, clay pots decorated with marine themes and stone objects.

Greek mythology event to be at library February 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Fans of Greek mythology and the “Percy Jackson and the Olympian” series are invited to “Camp Half-Blood,” from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Iowa City Public Library.

Children will divide into cabins and work with their peers, learning ancient Greek, conquering a labyrinth, practicing swordplay and archery.

Kids can arrive beginning at 1:30 p.m. The event is for children in grades third through sixth grades. To register, call 356-5200, option 6.

Sex Gods February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Gay Life, Sports & Games.
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Sports stars have been erotic icons since the time of ancient Greece > The ancient Greeks thought that going to the gym regularly was a good way to prepare young men for war, and a necessary training for the body’s health. It was also the place to pick up boys.

Socrates, the philosopher, always had an eye for the cute young man, and he describes the scene at Taureas’ gym when the hunk of the day walked in. ‘The fellow looked absolutely amazing: his beauty, his size. Everyone seemed to me to fancy him – they were so dumb-struck and confused when he came in – with a great crowd of lovers following him.’ A friend adds: ‘If he took his kit off, you wouldn’t bother with his face …’

This was a familiar scene to Socrates’s audience. The classical Greeks were obsessed with beautiful bodies and spent a good deal of time talking about them, honing them, and looking at each other’s flesh. In the gym, men – and men only – took all their clothes off, poured oil over their bodies and then had it scraped off, and then they exercised naked, including wrestling together. In a culture that supported affectionate and erotic relations between males, it is no surprise that going to the gym was a pretty sexy affair.

04-02-08_runners.jpg  This was part of the good life. Every Greek city worth its name had a string of gymnasiums and many citizens went to the gym every day. One little poem celebrates the ideal vividly: ‘He’s a lucky guy, who’s in love, goes to the gym, comes home and sleeps with his beautiful boy all day.’ These words were written for performance by a man among his friends, drinking happily at a symposium – the evening parties at which men relaxed together. For the ancient Greek, sex and sport went together naturally.

The professional athlete on his way to the Olympic Games was sometimes advised not to have sex before the day to save his strength. But the man who won at the Olympic Games returned home in a procession as grand as any ticker-tape parade, and, like any modern celebrity, became a sex-bomb overnight. Even the cabbage-eared boxer, sweaty from the fray, had his passionate admirers.

Sport was where masculinity was on display – and masculinity was a turn-on for the Greek spectators. In a city such as Athens, the Greek man was surrounded by statues of beautiful heroes and warriors – naked bodies, impossibly developed, and perfectly formed. These statues are now seen as the masterpieces of classical art. But these wonderful bodies, like pictures of supermodels for women today, were a frightening ideal to live up to. The gym could also be an anxious experience.

Men should ‘glow with fabulous conditioning: neither lean nor skinny, nor excessive in weight, but etched with symmetry’. That’s Lucian, a Greek satirist from the Roman Empire, spelling out what to aim for: a six-pack, good legs, to be beautifully symmetrical but not too heavy with muscles …

Socrates was famous for wandering up to acquaintances in the street and warning them that they had got flabby and clearly weren’t working out hard enough. Looking at citizens’ bodies and being looked at critically was all part of the life of the gym. In the city, there was no place to hide. Your body was open to the public gaze – and revealed what sort of a man you were.

Athenians found it disgusting that in Sparta women also exercised. For them it was an all-male business. And they recognized that sport in the gym was very much like the grapplings of the bedroom. ‘Before wrestling under the rules of the Goddess of Love,’ wrote the novelist Achilles Tatius, ‘boys get to grapple on the wrestling mat, publicly locking bodies together in the gym – and no one says that these embraces are immodest.’ Wrestling is a training for when ‘bodies rub firmly against one another in the athletics of pleasure’.

Achilles Tatius is a sly and wicked writer, but he touches the heart of the issue. For ancient Greeks, going to the gym was never just about sport. It was always about sex, too.

Article by Simon Goldhill, a professor of Greek literature and culture at the University of Cambridge. © Copyright The Guardian

See a slide show of pictures from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games > click here