“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” ― Homer, The Iliad
It all began when my oldest son, then twelve years old, began to read Rick Riordan’s young adult series with the character Percy Jackson, who is notoriously the son of Poseidon in The Heroes of Olympus. The series begins when 12-year-old Percy goes on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of his teachers attacks him, and he begins to discover his ties to the gods in Ancient Greece. My son devoured each book in the series, and soon began begging us to go to Greece.
My family and I lived in Prague for four years, and during that time, we traveled to as many European countries as possible. It was a dream come true to get to see and experience places we’d never imagined we’d get to go, especially as a family. When our son showed such interest in Greece, we decided we had to go. It was one of the most interesting places we were able to see — all of us loved it. This is why: history came alive in Ancient Greece.
Homer and The Iliad:
The ancient Greek writer, Homer, wrote the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey around the 8th century B.C. The Homeric poem The Iliad is the oldest piece of Western literature, and is set during the Trojan War (12th century B.C.) and involves the King Agamemnon and a warrior Achilles. King Agamemnon ruled from the ancient fortress at Mycenae and lived quite a story. At Mycenae, that ancient story written in The Iliad and The Odyssey comes alive in full color.
Ancient Greece and Mycenae:
Mycenae is the definition of beautiful.
The high hill where the Mycenae archeological site is located is about 55 miles southwest of Athens on the Peloponnese peninsula.
The Lion Gate
The Lion Gate marks the entrance to Mycenae and was built in the 13th century B.C. The Lion Gate is made up of two majestic lionesses and is the only surviving piece of sculpture at Mycenae. It is the oldest relief type sculpture and also the largest of prehistoric art.
The archeological site is vast and encompasses a large area atop a high hill. Walking paths lead throughout the site.
From the citadel site where King Agamemnon’s palace stood, the site overlooks hills and plains striped with olive and orange groves across to the Aegean Sea.
The colors are breathtaking.
At its peak, around 1350 B.C., Mycenae had a population of 30,000 people. Around the 12th century B.C., Mycenae declined and was eventually destroyed and abandoned.
Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis began excavations in 1841 when he found and restored the Lion Gate. Since that time, the citadel and lower village have continued to be excavated.
Even more than the Acropolis in Athens, I highly recommend visiting Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio while traveling in the mainland of Greece. It is one of the most memorable, colorful, and meaningful sites I saw during my four years living in Europe.