Never having been classical scholars we don’t know much about the gods and heroes of Ancient Greece. We started our education last week.
Epidauros , not far from Nafplion, was one of the most important healing centres in both the Greek and Roman world. A sanctuary was founded there a seriously long time ago – around 800BC. By the 4th Century BC Asklepios was the god of healing worshipped all over Greece but his centre of healing was at Epidauros. He had daughters called Hygieia and Panacea, continuing the general theme of good health!
It seems the patients slept the night in the sanctuary where the god appeared in their dreams either to cure them or recommend treatment. Medical instruments found at the site show that in addition to miracle cures practical treatment was also available.
To meet the needs of large numbers of pilgrims much building took place. This included temples to various gods, baths and residences. The theatre is said to be one of the most perfect and best preserved of all the Ancient Greek theatres.
Our host, Theo, gave us a lift to Epidauros. On the way back we stopped for a lovely lunch right beside the sea.
The following day we caught the bus in town to learn more about Ancient Greece at Mycenae, which we found out afterwards is considered one of the most important sites in Greece. There were certainly lots of tour groups there but plenty of room for us all.
Mycenae is a a World Heritage Site dating from even earlier, the civilisation here flourished between the 16th and 12th centuries BC with evidence of even earlier settlement. Strategically it must have been an excellent choice dominating the surrounding countryside in all directions and in a naturally defensible position. Greek mythology says it was founded by Perseus, the first hero who was the son of the god Zeus and a mortal woman.
The entrance is through the imposing Lion Gate with it’s monumental emblem still visible.
The walls are built of huge blocks, the construction is called cyclopean reflecting the story that they were not built by men but by the Cyclops, the one eyed giants of Greek mythology.
Excavation has brought to light fabulous relics including gold funeral masks and other goods worthy of Royal tombs. Most are in Athens but the on site museum has some great displays that give the idea.
The site is rocky and exposed to the sun, but wherever they could find a foothold little cyclamen were blooming!