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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

HOW AN ILLICIT LOVE AFFAIR CAUSED A 10 YEAR WAR.


I'm in Gythion, entrance to the Mani at the south Peloponnese right now.  All this area belonged to Sparta and Gythion was Sparta's seaport.  Now it's a quiet little fishers town with scenic views of the sea and the distant peninsulas of the Peloponnese.
Yithio (Gythion) is an attractive seaside town, the shore-front lined with seafood tavernas and little hotels.  I've been staying at the Saga, run by a French/Greek family.  I just love my room and balcony overlooking the sea, and it's close walking distance to the town centre.  
Right across from my pension is the little  islet of Marathonissi.  This used to be named Kranae in ancient times.  Now there is a restored fortress there, the Tzanetakis, built around 1810 by the Turkish Bey to protect him from  his lawless countrymen.There's also a museum of Mani there, telling some of the history of this very unique part of Greece.   What is most famous about this little island is the story that it was here that Paris of Troy had anchored his ship, and when he abducted Helen from her husband Menalaus' palace in Sparta, the two renegade lovers spent the night here.

Marathonnisi

Fortress
Whether or not he 'abducted' her is questionable.  After all, Paris was a handsome  young Prince of Troy and her husband was an older warrior king.  But whatever happened, it was the beginning of the fabled  10 year Troy Wars.  There is some speculation though, that the real reason the kingdoms of Bronze Age Greece rallied together to fight against the Trojans, was because Troy controlled the grain shipping lanes of the Aegean Coast and Helen's 'abduction' just gave them a good reason to do so.  At any rate, Homer's Iliad tells the whole story of how this 10 year war got started and ended,  a tragic end for so many including Priam and Hector of Troy and brave Achilles.

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