Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Island of Aegina has a fantastic past and an intriguing present. I was fortunate enough to spend some time on the island when I lived in Greece. The following is my article from Ancient History Encyclopedia `The Island Kingdom of Aegina'. If you're visiting Athens, and have the time, Aegina will definitely reward you in many, many ways. In ancient Greece it was known as an island of pleasure and Plato mentions it specifically, in that regard, in his dialogue of the `Phaedo'. While Aegina no longer boasts the kinds of pleasures it was known for in Plato's day, it still provides a visitor a magnificent experience.
The article begins:
Today, traveling an hour by ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens, the first remnant of Aegina’s great past a visitor will see is the lonely pillar of Apollo rising from the trees on the hill of Kolona. Once a splendid complex of three buildings (the Temple of Apollo itself rose on eleven large pillars and six smaller ones) and a cemetery (in which a large collection of gold and jewelry was found in the tombs, now housed in the British Museum) the pillar of Apollo is all that remains. This seems a fitting symbol for the whole of Aegina’s history: the island which once boasted the best wine, a high standard of living and a naval fleet which rivaled that of Athens is, today, known as the leading producer of pistachio nuts in Greece.
The nymph Aegina was the daughter of the river-god Asopus in the land of Sicyonia. Zeus, the king of the gods, fell in love with her and, in the shape of a flame, carried her off to the island of Oenone. There she gave birth to Zeus’ son, Aeacus, who then re-named the island in honor of his mother. Aeacus, according to the writer Ovid, was famous throughout Greece for his justice and wisdom and the island kingdom of Aegina prospered under his rule. He is said to have helped build the walls around Troy which kept the Mycenaean force of Agamemnon at bay for ten years during the Trojan War and was so favored by the gods that his prayers were always answered. No less a figure than Alexander the Great claimed descent from Aeacus on his mother’s side and, once Aeacus had passed on to the afterlife, he was honored as one of the three judges of the dead along with Rhadamanthys and Minos.
The rest of the article may be viewed on Ancient History Encyclopedia here:
As they say in Greece, `Chonia Polla!' - "Many Years!" and I hope you enjoy the magic of Aegina in that span. Thanks, as always, for reading.