ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019
4/5 Culture Shock
Total Length 1050 km
7 Riding Days
Intermediate Skills Level
Hotels and (1) Camping
National Forest of TBD
Middle May – Middle October
Wandering over Pineios, the brother river of Acheloous, we beheld Larissa, a prehistoric town, the founder of which, according to some myth, was Larissus, the son of Pelasgus. Its first king was Aleuas, the ancestor of the Aleuadae. In the Persian Wars they followed Xerxes, but in the Peloponnesian Wars they sided with the Athenians.
Alexander had with him 1.500 Thessalian horsemen, whose reputation as battle worthy was well established and rivaled the Macedonian cavalry; their leader was Calas, son of Harpalus.
Pelasgus from Peloponnese conquered Thessaly, which was at the time called Haemonia, together with his brothers Achaeus and Phthius, driving away its savage inhabitants. Thus Achaia, Phthiotis and Pelasgiotis were formed. This entire region of Thessaly, was in prehistoric times a lake, around which the Centaurs lived.
After a short while, I would be flying over the land of the Achaeans, which was formerly called Phthia and was the land of Achilles. His father Peleus was king in the city of Phthia of Thessaly and was descended from the lineage of Zeus, while his mother was the goddess Thetis, daughter of Oceanus. Thetis, out of respect for Hera who had raised her, had denied the advances of Zeus. So the god was pressuring her to marry Peleus. Thetis, in her attempt to escape, consecutively transformed into fire, water, wind, a tree, a bird, a tiger, a lion, a snake and finally into a squid, but Peleus following the advise of the Centaur Chiron, managed to make her his wife.
Achilles, this young lad of the Achaeans, fell dead, struck by the arrow of Paris of Troy, with the help of the god Apollo who guided the arrow to his vulnerable spot, his heel. Alexander had offered sacrifices at the tomb of the hero and took with him the shield of Achilles, who was his ancestor from his mother’s side Olympiad, before he embarked on his great campaign.
We passed swiftly over mount Orthys and after a while we could see the town of Lamia, named after Lamos, the son of Heracles and Omphale. It was the land of the malians, in the Malian gulf, where Ceyx the son of Eosphorus a friend and relative of Heracles was king, who also helped the hero drive away the Dryopes, who resided in mount Oeta and mount Parnassus, pillaging the neighbouring areas.
On the left we could see the land of the Locres, where the battle of Thermopylae took place in 490 B.C., in a narrow passage between the mountain and the sea near Anthele, where the representatives of the 12 tribes of the Delphic Amphictyony convened in the spring (here).
The Dryopes, whose name derives from the word “Drys” (Δρύς=Oak in Greek), were, as it seems, the first inhabitants of the Greek Peninsula. Dryops, their hero, was the son of the river god Spercheus, brother of Achelous and Peneus, who directed his waters into the Malian gulf. Spercheus was also the father of the Nymphs of mount Orthys. The father of Achilles, dedicated his son’s hair to this river, so that his son would return safe from Troy. The mother of Dryops, was the daughter of Danaus, Polydora. The land of the Dryopes was taken over by the Dorians and the Heracleidae, and thus it was renamed to Doris, after their hero Dorus, the son of Hellen, brother of Aeolus and grandson of Deucalion and Pyrrha.
Shortly we would be arriving in Parnassus. We would stop at Delphi, as guests of Dionysus, and then head to Delos, following the instructions of the Olympian Zeus.
Roaming around at Delphi we observed this strange world of the Greeks, where one tribe dedicated votive offerings (oblation) for its victory against the other, without any problem; an offering of the Arcadians for the victory and plunder of Lacedaemon with Epaminondas in 369 B.C.; an oblation of the Lacedaemonians for their victory at Aegospotamoi in 404 B.C. and the destruction of the Athenian fleet; a bronze horse of the inhabitants of Argos for their successful invasion of Lacedaemon in 414 B.C.; opposite the Athenian Treasury for the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., the treasury of Syracuse for their victory over the Athenians in 413 B.C.
One can go mad roaming the votive offerings of Delphi, because through them, each tribe saw its victory, but also its failure. Joy and sorrow at the same time. So I wandered if there is another people in modern day, or if there will ever be one in the future, which will accept its failures next to its successes, raising statues in both cases. The point is that this way one becomes wise through experience, so no tribe destroyed the oblations of the other tribes.
We would now continue our journey to Delos. We passed again from mount Helicon and entered Boeotia. The primeval and antediluvian land, where the Ectenes of Ogygia (Boeotia). Ogyges was a native king, the son of Poseidon and Alistra; the deluge which covered Boeotia happened during his reign. On the left, in a distance of a few kilometers from our route, I was amazed to see towns like Mideia (Livadeia), with the terrible oracle of Trophonios which was consulted even by Croesus, with the fountains of Oblivion and Remembrance, just like the Necromanteion. The oracle also cured psychological illnesses by using sudden psychological breakdowns. The Minyan Orchomenus with its eponymous hero, who had three daughters, Leucippe, Arsippe and Alcithoe, who were punished by Dionysus because they neglected to partake in his celebration. Leuctra (Battle of Leuctra) where the Thebeans defeated the undefeated Spartan army. Further to the back Chaeronea, where Philip II with his son Alexander defeated the allied Greek forces in 338 B.C.; the men of the Sacred Band of Thebes fell in this battle. Thebes of Cadmus, a town built since the bronze age, the scene of countless myths and tragedies of Aeschylus (“seven Against Thebes”), of Sophocles (“Oedipus the King”) and Euripides (“The Phoenician Women”), which out of hatred for the Athenians allied with the Persians and was defeated in the Battle of Plataea in 479 B.C.. Later it was destroyed by Alexander in 336 B.C., slaughtering 6.000 of its inhabitants.
Many memories are on this part of the route, some to be happy and some to be sad about. But there, on our right lies the city of Megara with the many colonies, Megara Hyblaea in 730 B.C. and Selinunte in Sicily in 628 B.C. Astacos in 722 B.C. Selymbria in 716 B.C. Chalcedon in 684 B.C. Byzantium in 660 B.C. and Heraclea of Bosphorus in 550 B.C.. The Megarians were forced to migrate because their territory was diminishing by the Athenians, who took Salamis and Eleusis from them, and the Corinthians who grabbed the area of Geraneia, cutting down their state by one third. A land in the narrows between Attica and Peloponnese, which became the theater of conflict between Sparta and Athens, between the Dorian and Ionian tribes, during the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 B.C.)
But there, we entered Attica, near the town of Eleutherae, where from the worship of Dionysus comes to Athens. From the smell of the sacrifices we understood that we were nearing Eleusis.
Seeing the Parthenon I remembered that Alexander had sent 300 armors there after Granicus with the inscription “Alexander of Philip and the Greeks, minus the Lacedaemonians, from Asia inhabited by barbarians”. The issue however still troubles me, who was his father Philip or Zeus? Leaving the Acropolis we pass by the Theater of Dionysus, The Auditorium of Pericles, the Olympion (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens) where the tomb of Deucalion was located, exiting from the gate of Aegeas, over the river Ilissos rich in water which had its springs in mount Hymettus. On its banks the shrine of the Muses was erected, the fountain Callirhoe, the shrine of Demeter where the minor Mysteries of Eleusis were held. There, the platanus of Socrates. At this place they worshiped Pan, Achelous, Heracles and the wind Boreas, who from this place abducted Orithyia, one of the daughters of Erechteus and took her to Thrace, where he resides.
Athens, what a city, which 9.000 years ago fought off the invading Atlanteans, as Plato would say, who was now in Hades since 347 B.C. A strange city with thousands of philosophers and many schools. All of them are there in the Agora; the Sophists, Cynics, Megarian philosophers, Pythagoreans and the Physiologists. It is very difficult to mention them all, with their many differences, seeking the Truth.
“What are we” and “where do we go” was their unsolved problem, which only they thought of, while the “barbarians” led a life without much thought. Thus Zeus was laughing at their problems. He kept murmuring, “look at what man is capable of thinking” and kept saying again and again “this is not good, because I foresee that in some distant future, they might abolish me, like I did to my father Cronus, and he to his father Uranus“. Because he remembered the conspiracy of his wife Hera. I often heard him say “these Greeks are restless, even after the deluge they remain the same“.
What problems do the gods face, I was thinking. But there, we were riding over mount Hymettus, on the right of its peak of 1.025 meters, where there was the statue of Zeus Hymettus and the altar of Rain Zeus, together with his son Foreseeing Apollo, he who predicted the rain so much needed by the Basin of Attica. On the left, in a distance of 6 kilometers we could see the temple of Braubronia Artemis.
In the morning we start our journey for Delos. As soon as we are in open sea, on our right we see the island of Keos (Kea), named after the mythological hero Keos, where the Carians, Pelasgians and Leleges had first settled. The Carians are an antediluvian people of Attica of pelasgian descent, Car was the son of Phoroneus who decided in favor of Hera in her dispute with Poseidon over the Peloponnese. The Pelasgians are an antediluvian people of Arcadia; their primogenitor was Pelasgus, the father of Lycaon who succeeded his father while his mother was the Oceanide Meliboea. The Leleges were an antediluvian people of Laconia, with Lelex being their first king succeeded by his son Myles.
Kea in historic times was inhabited by Ionians who are a prehistoric people of Attica and Northern Peloponnese. Ion was the son of Xuthus and the daughter of Erechteus Creusa and descended from the line of Deucalion. The brother of Xuthus was Dorus. So they are populations emerging after the deluge.
After a while we was passing by a barren island (Gyaros), which as Hermes used to tell us, someday after many years, would be turned into a prison for political prisoners. We soon remembered that this did not exist in Athens, because they exiled politicians by “ostracism”, or forces them to die like Socrates. After Gyaros, on the left, we noticed the island of Andros or Andreus, son of Eurymachus, one of the suitors of Penelope who was killed by Odysseus, when he returned to the island disguised as a beggar. Others say that Andreus was the son of Anius, who himself was also a son of Apollo and ruled over Delos during the time of the Trojan War. The mother of Anius was Rhoeo (Pomegranate), who descended from Dionysus, through her father Staphylus. The Carians, whom we mentioned earlier were the first inhabitants of the island, followed by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Creatans, Pelasgians and the Ionians. In 480 B.C. it sided with the Persians, while in the Peloponnesian War it allied with Sparta.
Before we reached Delos, we found ourselves between two islands, Syros on the right, which was initially inhabited by the Phoenicians and later the Ionians and was part of the first Athenian League. While on the left was Ophiusa (Tinos), with the many snakes and the famous temple of Poseidon and his wife Amphitrete, who is the queen of the sea, a daughter of Doris, one of the daughters of Oceanus and Nereus, who had the ability of transformation. The Nereids (sea waves) come from him (Nereus). Ophiusa was also an ally of Athens.
As we were reaching Delos, we noticed on the left behind the island of Apollo, the island Mykonos, named after the son of Anius. Its last inhabitants were the Ionians, led there by Hippocles, the son of Neleus and father of Phorbius.