Mycenae

Mycenae was at one point the center of the Hellenic universe. The Mycenaean stronghold is located on a mountain making it easily defendable. It is located somewhat near the center of the Peloponnesus and is also close to the isthmus which gives it geographical importance as the midpoint of ancient Greece. The period between 1600 BC and 1100 BC is called the Mycenaean period in the Hellenistic universe in reference to the overwhelmingly powerful Mycenae.

Greek mythology has it that Perseus founded the ancient city. It is the very same Perseus who defeated the legendary Medusa thus contributing to the city’s epic legacy. Furthermore the legends state that Mycenae was ruled by several dynasties of kings, namely the Perseids and the Atreids. If Greek mythology is of interest to you I strongly recommend you read up on their stories which include parts of the Trojan War, murders, deities, family strife and all the other wonderful ingredients that make for fascinating classical Greek tales.

The most impressive part of the ancient fortress was the lion gate. The small entrance to what was once an impregnable fortress is right underneath a sculpted plaque of two colossal stone lions. The artistic details of the lions show a level of skill and craftsmanship that is centuries beyond their time. Furthermore, it survived through several thousand years largely unscathed and to my knowledge, is the sole remaining Mycenaean sculpture. Some other notable structures include several granaries and graveyards surrounded by large fortress walls.

Walking through the remains with Mycenaean stories in mind gave me a closer connection with classical Greece. I recommend this ancient site for anyone with even a mild interest in Antiquity. After visiting you may rediscover a passion or love for the ancient world.

The stories of Perseus, the Medusa, the founding of Mycenae, and the dynasties of the Perseids and Atreids are all contained within Barry Powell’s book, “Classical Myth.”

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