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25 Μάιος 2013
05:59 pm

Arcadian myth

από mz

Arcadia (Greek: Αρκαδία - Arkadía) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan. In European Renaissance arts, Arcadia was celebrated as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness.

Arcadia has its present-day capital at Tripoli. It covers about 18% of the Peloponnese peninsula, making it the largest regional unit on the peninsula. Arcadia has a ski resort on Mount Mainalo, located about 20 km NW of Tripoli. Other mountains of Arcadia are the Parnon in the southeast and the Lykaion in the west.

The climate consists of hot summers and mild winters in the eastern part, the southern part, the low lying areas and the central area at altitudes lower than 1,000 m. The area primarily receives rain during fall and winter months in the rest of Arcadia. Winter snow occurs commonly in the mountainous areas for much of the west and the northern part, the Taygetus area, the Mainalon.

Geographically, ancient Arcadia occupied the highlands at the centre of the Peloponnese. To the north, it bordered Achaea along the ridge of high ground running from Mount Erymanthos to Mount Cyllene; most of Mount Aroania lay within Arcadia. To the east, it had borders with Argolis and Corinthia along the ridge of high ground running from Mount Cyllene round to Mount Oligyrtus and then south Mount Parthenius. To the south, the border Laconia and Messenia ran through the foothills of the Parnon and Taygetos mountain ranges, such that Arcadia contained all the headwaters of the Alpheios river, but none of the Eurotas river. To the south-west, the border with Messania ran along the tops of Mount Nomia, and Mount Elaeum, and from there the border with Elis ran along the valleys of the Erymanthos and Diagon rivers. Most of the region of Arcardia was mountainous, apart from the plains around Tegea and Megalopolis, and the valleys of the Alpheios and Ladon rivers.

Due to its remote, mountainous character, Arcadia seems to have been a cultural refuge. When, during the Greek Dark Age, Doric Greek dialects were introduced to the Peloponnese, the older language apparently survived in Arcadia, and formed part of the Arcado-Cypriot group of Greek languages. Herodotus says that the inhabitants of Arcadia were Pelasgians, the Greek name for the supposed 'indigenous' inhabitants of Greece, who dwelt there before the arrival of the 'Hellenic' tribes. Whilst Herodotus seems to have found the idea that the Pelasgians were not 'Greek' far-fetched, it is clear that the Arcadians were considered as the original inhabitants of the region.

Arcadia is one of the regions described in the "catalogue of ships" in the Iliad. There is a modern regional unit of Greece of the same name, which is more extensive than the ancient region.


From the 6th century BC, Sparta dominated the Peloponnese, and compelled its neighbours, including Arcadia, to join its Peloponnesian League and fight in its wars. The Spartan military dominance that enabled this interference in Arcadian affairs was suddenly ended in 371 BC, when Epaminondas and his Theban army decisively defeated a Spartan army at Leuctra. In the aftermath, the Arcadian League was formed, combining various cities of Arcadia into a federal league. After its establishment, the Arcadian League took an active role in the politics of the Peloponnese.

However, by 362 BC, the question of whether to continue as an ally of Thebes had become so pressing as to divide the Arcadian League. The cities of the league therefore ended up fighting on different sides at the Battle of Mantinea. After the battle, and the end of the Theban hegemony, the influence of the Arcadian League diminished. Although it never regained the prominence it had held during the 360s, an Arcadian league in some form—whether a continuation or a re-creation of the original league is unclear—continued to exist in the years after the Battle of Mantinea. Various references indicate that the league endured at least into the 3rd century BC. The date of its final disappearance is uncertain, but at the latest it had vanished by the 230s BC, when the Arcadian cities joined the Achaean League.

After the collapse of the Roman power in the west, Arcadia became part of the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire, until 1460. Arcadia remained a beautiful, secluded area, and its inhabitants became proverbial as herdsmen leading simple pastoral unsophisticated yet happy lives, to the point that Arcadia may refer to some imaginary idyllic paradise, immortalized by Virgil's Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral masterpiece, Arcadia (1504); see also Arcadia (utopia).

After the fourth crusade, the area briefly became a part of the Principality of Achaea, until recovered by the Paleologos family for the Byzantines In the mid-15th century, the region fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks with some exceptions in the 16th century for a couple of years.

The Latin phrase Et in Arcadia ego which is usually interpreted to mean "Even in Arcadia there am I" is an example of memento mori, a cautionary reminder of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. The phrase is most often associated with a 1647 painting by Nicolas Poussin, also known as "The Arcadian Shepherds". In the painting the phrase appears as an inscription on a tomb discovered by youthful figures in classical garb.

After 360 years of occupation by the Ottomans, Arcadia was one of the centres of the Greek War of Independence which saw victories in their battles including one in Tripoli. After a victorious revolutionary war, Arcadia was finally incorporated into a newly-created Greek state. Arcadia saw economic growth and small emigration.

In the 20th century, Arcadia experienced extensive population loss through emigration, mostly to the Americas. Many Arcadian villages lost half their inhabitants, and fears arose that they would turn into ghost towns. Arcadia now has a smaller population than Corinthia. Demographers expected that its population would halve between 1951 and the early 21st century. The population has fallen to 87,000 people in 2011.

An enormous earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale range shook Megalopoli and the surrounding area in 1965. Many buildings were destroyed, leaving people homeless. Within a couple of years, the buildings were rebuilt anti-seismically. In 1967, construction began on the Megalopoli Power Plant. It began operating in 1970, producing additional electricity for southern Greece. A mining area south of the plant is the largest mining area in the peninsula and continues to the present day with one settlement moved.

In July and August 2007 forest fires caused damage in Arcadia, notably in the mountains.

In 2008, a theory proposed by Classicist, Hellenic historian and researcher Christos A. Mergoupis, states that the mummified remains of Alexander the Great (not his actual tomb), may in fact be located in Gortynia-Arkadia, in the Peloponnese of Greece. Since 2008, the new research is an ongoing work in progress and is still being currently conducted in Greece. The research was first mentioned on CNN International in May 2008.

When, during the Greek Dark Ages (ca. 1200 BC–800 BC), Doric Greek dialects were introduced to the Peloponnese, the older language apparently survived in Arcadia, and formed part of the Arcado-Cypriot group of Greek languages. Arcadocypriot never became a literary dialect, but it is known from inscriptions. Tsan is a letter of the Greek alphabet occurring only in Arcadia, shaped like Cyrillic И; it represents an affricate that developed from labiovelars in context where they became t in other dialects.

Tsakonian Greek, still spoken on the coast of modern Arcadia, in the Classical period considered the southern Argolid coast immediately adjoining Arcadia, is a descendant of Doric Greek, and as such is an extraordinary example of a surviving regional dialect of archaic Greek. The principal cities of Tsakonia are the Arcadian coastal towns of Leonidio and Tyros.

GreeceArcadia.png (27.91 ΚΒ)
- Μάιος 2013
Arcadian myth
   25 Μάιος 2013, 17:59

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