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F + 22 : Agamemnon - Lusting for Gold?

Adverse wind conditions usually spoil plans and often are a nuisance. Turns out that the Meltemi was God’s blessing. It allowed us to visit sites which we would not have been able to see otherwise.

Agamemnon's Citadel in Mycenae - around 20'000 people lived around the Palace

Thought about this when standing on top of the citadel in Mycenae. Must be divine intervention that we are able to visit the home of King Agamemnon and Troy on the same trip. Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, was the leader of the coalition of Greek princes who sailed north to conquer Troy.

The Quality of the Masonry is amazing - as if cut by

Modern Tools

The Mycenae’s king heavily fortified palace looks over a fertile plane and hills full of olive and fruit trees. In the distance, the sea reflects the sunlight. Behind the palace, mountain chains covered with rich forests rise. In one single word, the area is lush. No wonder people settled here and built towns. The agricultural surplus was large. Over time, the resulting division of labor allowed highly specialized craftsmen to open a business. Artists and painters decorated homes, bronze casters made sophisticated tools and weapons; professional potters storage vessels and amphorae; carpenters built palace floors and stone masons impressive temples, castles and mighty city walls.

View from the Mycenaean Citadel towards the Golf of Nafplio

Three weeks ago, we were standing on the walls of Troy and I used exactly the same words. Troy was wealthy, benefitted from a rich agricultural surplus, its technology was leading edge, specifically the hydraulic engineering, Its citadel was large and its town walls as mighty as Mycenae.

View from the Citadel of Troy over the Scamander River Valley

So why did these two towns go to war? Why did they enlist all their neighbors in the campaign? They had all they could ever wish for. What more did they want? For a while I thought it was about the control of Bosporus. But this is probably wrong. The control of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles became strategically important once grain was shipped to Greece from the Crimea and the Sea of Azov. But the grain trade only started in the 7th century BC.

King Agamemnon's Death Mask in Pure Gold

The only thing the people in Mycenae did not have were precious metals. Whilst gold and silver were mined in Anatolia, there were no mines in Greece yet. Troy, the Lowian town, had lots of gold. When Schliemann excavated it, he found the beautiful royal jewelry. When excavating Mycenae a few years later, he found graves with gold jewelry and six stunning death masks. The Myceneans knew about gold and what power it had. Where they obsessed by the same craze for gold that befell the Spanish in the 15th and 16th century? We know to which length they went to get it. Maybe their murdering and looting in Latin America had a precedent in Greece 2’500 years earlier?

Ancient Golden Headset found in Troy - around 2'300 BC

Before visiting Mycenae, we went to see Epidaurus, the ancient healing center with its perfectly preserved theatre. Already described last year in my blog. It was as beautiful as ever. Seeing Mycenae and Epidaurus the same day makes me wonder whether greed and beauty always go hand in hand . Maybe Greek literature gives us the answer – upon his return from Troy, King Agamemnon was killed by his wife. He paid a terrible price for his lust for gold. Was it worth it? The answer in Greek literature is a definite no.

The 14'000 Seat Theatre was build for the Thousands of Sick People who pilgrimed for Centuries to Epidavros

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1 comentário

07 de set. de 2022

It seems that the gods have been shining on you and your fellow sailors with unforeseen events on this trip with unintended consequences of the opportunity to visit places not otherwise on the plan. 😊

Mycenae looks much greener and lush than the places we visited last week. I do agree that King Agamemnon‘s lust for gold was not

worth the price he paid!

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