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Greece

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Greece is the most easterly of the three southern peninsulas of Europe, extending into the Mediterranean. Its states or provinces are divided from each other by its mountain ranges and peaks, which have associated with them many very interesting and entertaining stories. The range on the north, which separates Greece from the continent of Europe, is a continuation of the Balkans. From this several chains extend in a somewhat southerly direction, dividing Macedonia from Illyria and Epirus from Thessaly.

The earliest history of Greece which can be mentioned with any certainty begins with the Dorian invasion, which, covering about two centuries, was completed about 1000 B. C. This invasion caused the people then in Epirus to move to Thessaly, the Thessalians to emigrate to Bœotia, while the Doric invaders formed the state of Sparta.

The effect of this invasion was to cause the former inhabitants to be reduced to slavery not only in the mainland but in the colonies, and tyranny was rife. Sparta, on account of the small number of its people, became a military state, more as a matter of self-protection at first, but afterward grew into a predatory state. In 431 B. C. the great war between Sparta and Athens began, and it lasted for 27 years before Athens was defeated. The supremacy of Sparta being thus established, it set about a series of oppressions and tyrannies, so that a combination of the other states, aided by the Persian king, caused its downfall and defeat at Leuctra in 370.

Greece attained its greatest power under the great Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedon, who defeated Darius, founded Alexandria, overthrew the Persian empire and gained Asia Minor, everywhere planting Greek colonies. He died at Babylon in 323 B. C. Upon his death ensued the Lamian War for political liberty, but the Macedonians, under Antipater, were again victorious. In 395 A. D. Greece was ravaged by the Goths, and in 747 a great pestilence depopulated many parts of the country.

In 1018 the Bulgarians swept the country, but were finally defeated by Basil II. Mohammed II made himself master of Greece in 1453, and almost all the possessions of Greece gradually passed into the hands of the Turks before 1669. Thus it remained until, in 1821, the war for independence broke out and lasted until, by the aid of England, France and Russia, Greece once more regained her liberty in 1830. In 1833 Otho of Bavaria was made king, but had to leave the country in 1862, when George I, son of the king of Denmark, was in 1863 elected king of the Hellenes. He was born in 1845.

The eastern boundary is marked by the sea and mountains from the Balkan system, among them being Olympus, 9,750 feet high (upon which were supposed to dwell the gods of ancient mythology), Ossa, Mavro, Vuni and Pelion. That part of the range which marks the eastern boundary of Thessaly extends beyond the mainland and forms the islands of Eubœa, Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Naxia and Amurgos. The “island” of Pelops, called the Peloponnesus but bearing the modern name of the Morea, is connected with the mainland by the narrow isthmus of Corinth. The islands have mountain systems of their own, among the higher peaks being Aroania (7,724 feet) and Taygetus (7,904 feet).

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Transportation. The rivers, from the size and nature of the country, are of little importance, and flow generally south or west. The largest are the Aous, Achelous, Peneus and Haliacmon. In October, 1903, the canal (four miles in length) across the Isthmus of Corinth was opened for traffic. In 1904 there were 700 miles of railway in operation, besides 4,000 miles of telegraph lines.

Products. Its chief products are currants, wine, oil and olives, besides minerals and agricultural products. Sponge-fishing also is an important industry.

Government and Cities. The law-making power is vested in a house of representatives, called the Boulé, consisting of 207 members, elected by universal suffrage but convened and adjourned by the king. The total area of Greece and dependencies is about 25,014 square miles, with a total population of a little more than 2,600,000. The chief towns are Athens, the capital (population 167,479); Piræus (73,579); Patras (37,724); Corfu (18,978); and Zante (13,580).

People. The ancient Greeks were a branch of the family that includes most Europeans, coming from what were styled Indo-European or Aryan peoples. They were not a grand division of the human race, except as regards language. It is doubtful whether the home of the original people was in Europe or in Asia, but there is hardly any question that the first Greek tribes were wanderers, living on their flocks, who entered Greece over the mountains of the north; and, as each succeeding tribe followed, the preceding ones were pushed further southward, until not only was the mainland occupied, but Greek settlements filled Sicily and the Mediterranean islands and dotted Asia Minor.

These Greeks called themselves Hellenes, were called Græci and Ionians by the Italians and Orientals in turn, while Homer speaks of them as Danaäns and Achæans. It has been said that there are no Greeks in Greece, but it is pretty certain that the modern inhabitants are descendants of the three races — Greeks, Thracians and Illyrians — that lived at the time of the Roman conquest. The language of the Greeks was closely allied to Sanskrit, and was spoken in seven dialects, at least to the end of the second century, but later modifications and changes were made which left the language in its present form.

Religion. When we first have any account of the ancient Greek religion, we learn that they followed a kind of idolatrous worship of many gods, each supposed to control a different branch of human destiny and endowed with varying attributes and powers. The worship was by prayers, offerings and sacrifices. This was mythology. The modern Greek church is called the Orthodox church, and is endowed and supported by the state and subject to it in all but spiritual matters.

References:

See W. M. Leake's Travels in Northern Greece; Schrader's Prehistoric Antiquities (translated by F. B. Jevon); History, by Thirlwall, Grote, Curtius and Findlay; and Jevon's Greek Literature.

The New Student's Reference Work (1914) pp. 800-801.

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Images

Image Name
Tiryns. The Gate of the Upper Castle
The Temple of Athena on the Island of Aegina
The Eastern Portico of the Erechtheum viewed from the Northern Peristyle of the Parthenon
The Western Portico of the Parthenon from the South
The Hall of the Great Temple of the Mysteries, Eleusis
The Street of Tombs outside the Dipylon at Athens
Colossal Head of Despoina
Corfu. The Old Fort from the West
The Battle-Field of Marathon from Mount Pentelikon
The Acropolis with Kallirrhoe in the Foreground
Mistra, near Sparta
The Temple of Athena at Sunium
Sketch Map of Greece
The Laconian Gate of Messene
The Parthenon from the Northern End of the Eastern Portico of the Propylasa
The Northern Portico of the Erechtheum
The Acropolis of Mycens from South-West, with Mount Elias
The Ancient Quarries on Mount Pentelikon
Site of Megalopolis in Arcadia
Delphi. The Castalian Gorge and Spring
Athens. The Monument of Agrippa and the Pinacotheca
Olympia. The Palaestra and remains of the Temple of Zeus
Athens from the Road to Eleusis
Mount Ithome from the Stadion of Messene
Columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus from the North-West
The Temple of Theseus from the North-West
Sunset from the North-Eastern Corner of the Acropolis
The Acropolis from the Site of the Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Castle of Karytsna in Arcadia
The Parthenon from the Propylsea
Interior of the Temple of Apollo at Bassse in Arcadia
Convent of Daphni
Sparta and Mount Taygetus
Olympia. The base of the Kronos Hill with the remain of the Temple of Hera and the Philippeion
Vista of the Northern Peristyle of the Parthenon looking westward
The Temple of Athena at Sunium from the North
Triple Bridge over the Mavrozoumenos River
Nauplia and Tiryns from the Road to Argos
The lower part of the Auditorium of the Theatre of Dionysos at Athens
The Acropolis from the base of the Philopappus Hill
Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis, looking towards Salamis
The Square in front of the King's Palace at Athens
The Bastion and Temple of Wingless Victory viewed from the ascent to the Propylsa
The Temple of Hera at Olympia
The Portico of Athena Archegetis
The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates
Andritsaena. The resting-place for the Temple of Apollo at Bassae
The Caryatid Portico of the Erechtheum from the West
Mycenae, showing the site of the famous discoveries of Schliemann
The Dipylon at Athens
The Cavern Chapel on the South Side of the Acropolis
Corfu. The Old Fort from the South
Mistra and the Valley of the Eurotas
The Temple of Theseus from the South-West
The Great Temple of the Mysteries, Eleusis
Delphi. The Portico of the Athenians
Front Cover
The Southern side of the Ercchtheum, with the foundations of the earlier Temple of Athena Polias
The Arch of Hadrian
Title Page
Off Cape Matapan
Kalamata on the Gulf of Messene
The Pnyx ; or Place of Assembly of the People
The Stadion at Athens
The Theatre of Epidaurus
Delphi from Itea
The Western End of the Acropolis seen from below the Pnyx
The Temple at Corinth
The Seaward End of the Plain of Attica looking towards Salamis
The Propylsea from the Northern Edge of the Platform of the Parthenon
Argos and Larissa
The Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus from the Hill Ardettos
The Areopagus and the Theseum
The Temple of Apollo at Bassa; in Arcadia, with distant view of Mount Ithome
Mount Pentelikon and Lycabettos from the North-Eastern Angle of the Parthenon
Back Cover
The Stoa of Hadrian
The Tower of the Winds
Megalopolis in Arcadia

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