Voyage 7. THE… “SUN LANGUAGE”
Psychotic megalomania? Absolutely; but also a… university thesis – and even more: an official state policy! This aphorism might be the starting point of a synopsis about the official Turkish ideology on the national question. Almost everyone in the Eurasian zone – except perhaps the Hellenes, Persians and… barbarians – owe almost everything to the Turks: their very existence, their language and culture, let alone their music!
“What about the Hellenes?”, some “Romioi” anxiously insist on asking, as they refuse to accept that they have either… never existed, or – most likely – are included among the “Romans” of the above mentioned citation quoted from the gold-bound kitabs of the sages.
Well, I’m not referring to freaks of a sick mind. It may be hard to believe but these ideas have been championed by academics! The “Great Idea” (Megale Idea) has died out in Greece(?) but in Turkey it’s alive and well and (wants to be) the master of the world…
The Kurdish languages belong to the Iranian and Indo-Iranian branches of the Indo-European family. So they are related to Persian (Farsi), Indian Sanskrit, Hellenic and most European languages. Even… worse(!) the Anatolian languages of Asia Minor, headed by Hittite, are also Indo-European.(a)
All the above languages, spoken or extinct, are Indo-European. On the contrary, the Turkic languages belong to the Altaic family, together with the Mongolic. Some linguists group the Altaic and Uralic (Finno-Ugric) languages together (Ural-Altaic). No such hypothesis connecting the Altaic and Indo-European languages has been put forward. It doesn’t matter much to Ankara’s “scientists”. Thus they teach linguistics this way… à la turca:
Since I don’t like to be branded as a “nationalist”, I invoke a Turkish scientist in the true sense of the word, the sociologist İsmail Beşikçi,(c) a man who’s spent most of his life in Turkish prisons not because he has committed any crime, but because he’s had the courage to publicize his documented views. Beşikçi has been persecuted/prosecuted because he initially criticized (and later polemicized) the ruling ideology of Turkey as it was set forth in such “scientific” theses – and even more so because he has dealt with a taboo subject: the Kurdish question.(d)
The citations quoted above (except that reference to Homer) are from Beşikçi’s book, Historical Thesis on Turkey / The Sun Language Theory and the Kurdish Question, which cost him three years in prison because he was “reckless” enough not to deny the existence of a nation… The first thing he took into account was the nature of the positions adopted in 1930 by Turkish “scientists” under the guidance of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk)! Based on official documents, speeches and such “scientific” theses, Beşikçi analyzed the formulation and development of the ideology of Kemalism, exposing its unscientific, racist and chauvinistic nature. In one of his many apologies (speeches in defense of himself), he attacked the official “Justice” of the Kemalist regime:
“This court acts like the gendarmerie, police, national security and other services, attempting to impose the hegemony of the official ideology through its verdicts.” (İsmail Beşikçi)
This trial took place in 1979, one year before the overthrow of so-called democracy in a coup of the army, the then mighty pillar supporting the regime. More trials and convictions preceded and followed for Beşikçi. Even if he could live two or three lives, he would not have time enough to serve the 200 years in prison imposed on him in total. Released in 1999, he was sent back to court in 2010 – that is, after the collapse of Kemalism – for “propaganda”, because of an article entitled The rights of nations to self-determination and the Kurds, which cost him more 15 months in jail.
In January 1981 he sent a Letter to UNESCO from his prison, stigmatizing the decision of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of the United Nations to declare that year as The Atatürk Year.(e) A new conviction followed. Undeterred he continued sending letters from the dungeons to international organizations that, of course, ended up in the hands of Turkish judges who imposed new sentences. The letter to the president of the Journalist Union of Switzerland e.g. cost him 10 years!
But even in his trials (where we lose count, indeed) with his apologies (several of these speeches have been put together in his book, Defense), he persevered with remarkable courage and selflessness so as to defend the rights of the Kurdish people relying only on the public’s sense of justice – a sense that has ceased to govern the actions of even the “competent” international organizations.
We imagine spontaneously that before us we have İsmail B personifying Josef K, Kafka’s main character in The Trial. But our association is rather incongruous: Beşikçi has not been a surreal figure of absurdist fiction but an indomitable hero of free thought and scientific knowledge, a symbol of our time – exactly because such people are rare today. However, he’s had the misfortune to be born in Turkey. Therefore, he will never be awarded a Nobel Prize!(f)
It’s not me, of course, the one who has politicized the issue of linguistics à la turca. The issue itself is profoundly political. Lay, if you will, the blame on Alain Gheerbrant who “cast the first stone” paralleling Atatürk to Âşık Veysel (see the previous Voyage 6). Have no doubt, the French researcher is not an isolated case: it constitutes the rule (which is why we take note of him). No need to say that there are even worse cases. One thing, you see, is to credit “exclusively” the Turks with Anatolian music and another thing is to act similarly with the music of Constantinople; especially if we bear in mind that the Ottomans spoke of Arabo-Persian music; only after the establishment of the Republic this music was called Turkish, or even Ottoman.(g)
Completely different was the approach adopted by Gheerbrant’s namesake and compatriot, Alain Daniélou, as an adviser to UNESCO’s International Music Council, which led to a number of recordings of world music such as Unesco Collection: A Musical Anthology of the Orient, Musical Atlas, Musical Sources and Anthology of Indian Classical Music / A Tribute to Alain Daniélou. As a producer of the Cairo recordings, Taqâsîm and Layâlî, on instrumental and vocal modal improvisations, he made a thought-provoking synopsis that begins as follows:
“The melodic system of the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Mediterranean derives from the adaptation of the ancient Greek, Persian, and Egyptian systems. Until the end of the 19th century, this art continued to develop under the influence of fresh Persian and Byzantine elements.”
(Alain Daniélou, Rodolphe d’Erlanger)
The conclusions we can draw are astonishing, indeed: until the eve of their empire’s collapse, the Ottomans – at least in the domain of music – were still under the influence of the empire they had abolished before half a millennium! It was natural that the Arabic-speaking peoples, then vassals of the Ottomans in the region, were equally influenced. Thus the Byzantine echos resonated throughout the Mediterranean: the Christians were influenced through Byzantine ecclesiastical chant at least until the 11th century when, due to the Schism, Gregorian chant became obligatory; the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire were equally influenced – not by ecclesiastical chant, of course, but by the erstwhile secular Byzantine music.
Persian influences may be considered natural, since the Iranians had already achieved their self-determination with their own independent state. But what can one say about Byzantine music, especially secular, which – supposedly – ceased to exist as soon as the state that gave birth to it was erased from the map? How could it possibly influence the Mediterranean on the eve of the 20th century and even impregnate it with “fresh” musical elements?
Trying to resume what Alain Daniélou and Rodolphe d’Erlanger have just said, and the thoughts they have provoked, we can imagine a historical model as follows: the Arabs, that is, those coming from the Arabian Peninsula, were cultivated adopting the ancient Hellenic, Persian, and Egyptian cultures. They knew, therefore, their empire could not last long if they were not able to assimilate the civilized Mediterranean peoples they had conquered. Under the circumstances, this could only happen through religion, first of all, and secondarily, language. It was absolutely necessary for the Arabs to break the ties of these ancient peoples with their glorious past by making them convert to Islam and – even better – adopt Arabic. It was the only way to exert undisputed control on their vast empire. All they needed was a combination of incentives and coercion. The same tactics had been already used in the case of the Hellenes when they were Christianized (although that process was outright violent)…
The Arabs knew their empire could not last long if they did not assimilate the ancient peoples they had conquered. This could only happen through religion (Islam) and language (Arabic). They had to break the ties of these peoples with their glorious past. It was the only way to exert undisputed control on their vast empire. All they needed was a combination of incentives and coercion…
When the Turks took over the Caliphate, they also adopted Arab culture that had sprung out like an amalgam from these ancient civilizations. Note that this synthesis started bearing fruit only in the 13th century, that is, after Constantinople fell for the first time to the Crusaders and Venetians in 1204. There was no similar cultural renaissance during the Ottoman period. That’s why there were still “fresh Persian and Byzantine influences” onto the Caliph Court music and art until the last days of the Ottoman Empire. What exactly was the Ottoman contribution? It was not so much musical but mainly political – through this wider, unified area – allowing these influences to have a greater impact on every corner of the empire.
According to the Tunisian Professor Salah el Mahdi, who spoke at the musicological symposium of Delphi on Rhythms, Modes and Scales of Mediterranean Music in 1988, the Near East was influenced by the so-called Turco–Byzantine music:
Now that we are sufficiently informed, and also have the necessary standard of comparison, we may have some fun enjoying Bernard Mauguin’s sophistries:
So we are talking about such colossal differences: those between Bach and Berlioz! Who would have the guts to disagree? But these were differences of eras, between two composers (one baroque, the other romantic) who created in the same tradition of Occidental “classical” music during the so-called common practice period (baroque, classical, romantic). Racial differences (German vs. French) were rather insignificant. The same applies to the distinction among Turkish, Arab and Iranian musicians: their main difference, especially before the creation of national states, was also a difference of eras. If Mauguin had compared Bach not with Berlioz but with Brahms, he would have noticed that they too are “easily distinguishable”. But such a comparison between two composers of common origin (both Bach and Brahms were Germans) would have deprived him of any pretext for his chicaneries…
The difference between Bach and Berlioz is not between German and French music but between baroque and romanticism (plus genius vs. average…)
There is no doubt that if instead of Western theorists we had their Oriental colleagues, things might have been even worse, since everyone would have “trumpeted his own merchandise”. Mahdi in Delphi e.g. spoke of Turco-Byzantine music because he was not a Turk; that’s why he gave no due emphasis to the role of Persian music theorists, something that the Iranian Hormoz Farhat did; but he in turn “forgot” the contribution of Byzantine music, which Simon Karas put forward at the forefront – and so on…
What the Orient needs is an era of Renaissance and Enlightenment – something that the Occident intentionally obstructs for its own advantage and interests. These interests, I’m afraid, have been served, consciously or not, by those Western theoreticians who can’t see the forest for the trees (or, if you like, focus on the finger and can’t see it’s pointing to the moon), emphasizing the secondary – the local differences in music – and minimizing the primary – its common features. It is the classic recipe: Divide et impera!
I. MEDITERRANEAN PERIPLUS
Archipelago. BEFORE SAILING OFF
THE MEDITERRANEAN PERIPLUS voyage’s starting point was the Thessalonica newspaper in 1994, three years before the painful experience – as it turned out – of Thessalonica, European Capital of Culture in 1997. Its objective was to highlight the need for a Mediterranean Conservatoire in Salonica, in parallel with the immediate, realistic goal of organizing a Mediterranean Festival focusing on music, but also encompassing other artistic and literary events, the Halcyon Days – both in connection with that supposedly “feast of culture” in the town.
Finally, no target was reached… No need to say that this voyage was anything but cloudless. Apart from the demand itself, supposedly “untimely”, and the various obstacles on the way, I felt awkward as I was obliged to write about – that is, to describe – Mediterranean civilizations, mainly music cultures, and their mutual exchanges and interactions, without having the possibility to actually refer to sound recordings in order to prove my case.
When, at last, the boat of the Mediterranean Periplus was launched in the radio waves of the Cultural Radio of the Hellenic Radio-Television in Thessalonica (9.58 fm) in 1998, I was delighted: The much-troubled “Cultural Capital” was already a thing of the past and, moreover, I was able to submit to the public judgment the music that fascinated me for so long but I had never thought it would attract a wider audience. Fortunately, I was wrong…
Mediterranean Periplus – voyages in time and space, around and beyond the sea of civilizations: we follow the movements of peoples, goods, ideas and cultural patterns in our historical space, underlying that exchange was the determining factor in the development of civilizations; therefore, the latter constitute a common heritage of the Mediterranean peoples.
(Description of the program in the media)
The remodeling of these voyages in writing is a completely different thing from the actual radio programs because, on the one hand, discussing music is almost always less impressive than listening to music: the description of a miracle, even the most eloquent, bears no comparison to the miracle itself.
On the other hand, however, writing is irreplaceable as a different, but absolutely necessary, form of expression and communication, conveying information and conclusions, where it is overwhelmingly superior to sound. Indeed, how much more essential it seems for this radio “talk on air” to be written down – because, after all, scripta manent, if they deserve it, having previously undergone the test of criticism – when it may eventually become obvious it’s been something more than just… “talk in the air”!
After more than a dozen years of voyages in space and time, around and beyond the sea of civilizations, let me present a selection of texts, revised according to the needs of reading, not listening – an introduction, if you will, to the Mediterranean Periplus, which, I hope, will be interesting enough to both our initiated fellow voyagers and those who will go out to sea with us thanks to these texts.
Chronicle 7*. “We Don’t Need No Thought Control”…
NATURAL SELECTION, Charles Darwin’s revolutionary evolutionary theory, already a cornerstone of biology, does not apply to man-made creations which are instead “artificially selected” (censored), on the basis of ideological prejudice against non-conformist ideas. It seems that Big Brother has been omnipresent long before George Orwell’s 1984, burning not only libraries and books, but on many occasions the authors themselves, while “purifying” society and rewriting “history”. The motives of such crimes against humanity are rarely outright politico-economical; as a rule, they are disguised behind a religious mask – especially when this religion is monotheistic, that is, antagonistic to the other religions, authoritarian and, of course, power-hungry. Note that, among the monotheistic religions, Christianity is the unchallenged champion of such crimes. Here is a short list of the first phase:
This intervening “Chronicle within a Chronicle”, I remind you, had Abdera of Andalusia as a starting point, during the revival of an ancient Periplus of Iberia in the previous Chronicle. We then voyaged to Abdera of Thrace and met its most celebrated citizen, Democritus. Plato’s hostility towards the atomist philosopher and his appeal to his students to destroy any Democritean work they could find, combined with the fact that no such work has survived, were more than a challenge for a “Periplus within a Periplus”, sailing in a sea the Big Brothers have tried to erase from the maps. The ocean of abuses is hidden there; we just gleaned some information on the initial period (until the time the first Spanish caravels crossed the Atlantic), limiting ourselves to cases of intentional crimes that came to our attention. A study in depth would reveal the Prince of Darkness himself…
What conclusions can we draw? An innocent person would expect to find the first traces of the idea of human rights in religions, especially the monotheistic ones, which should uphold the sanctity of human existence. In reality, the history of human rights finds traces of them in some legal codes of antiquity (Mesopotamia, Persia, India, Hellas, Rome), but not in the Bible, skipping Judaism and Christianity. The reason is that the ones who cared about such rights were the philosophers and not the prophets (with the exception of Muhammad who was obliged to deal with the subject). The kings who wanted to conquer the world, and the priests who wanted to conquer the mind, infringed as a rule on human rights. I think that if the Declaration of Human Rights and freedom of religion had been adopted and observed in the beginning of the Common Era, the only monotheists in the world today would be the Jews!
“PERIPLUS”: an interview to a Hellenic newspaper
“THE DAWN” (SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2013)
LETTERS & ARTS
Interview: THANOS MANDJANAS
“THE CULTURAL BRIDGES ARE NOT THE END BUT THE MEANS…”
Thanos Mandjanas: Do you perceive music as an inner need for soulful expression, a precious hobby perhaps, or an additional (professional) occupation?
Michales Loukovikas: Dealing with music is or should be an inner need for soulful expression for everyone, even for amateur hobbyists. For me, moreover, it is a professional vocation one should serve faithfully and consistently. That’s why I have also become a journalist…
TM: Do you consider the music of “Periplus” to be world/ethnic, just Mediterranean popular music, or you give it some other name? Do you really believe there are also some elements of new age – albeit with the wider meaning of the term – or not?
ML: I was never interested in these terms. Besides, they were coined by merchants. In “The Gold in the Sky”, based on Ares Alexandrou’s poetry, released bilingual also in Portugal, I attempted a West-to-East voyage. “Periplus” is a voyage, as well: Voyaging music…
TM: Concerning the CD, you wrote that you tried to create “bridges” among countries, peoples and cultures. Does it mean, therefore, that this work has a scope that goes beyond pure music? Could it also be that this intercultural parameter reduced even partially the musical nature of the project?
ML: When artists coming from different cultures decide to work together, if they do not use some international “dialect”, of western origin as a rule, they are obliged to create “channels” of communication. These “bridges” are not the end but the means. Our aim is to create a work of art.
TM: Are you satisfied with the sales of the CD so far, both abroad and in Hellas? What is the commercial potential of this and any other similar Greek project in the globalized disc market?
ML: Commercialism that deifies the mainstream killing creativity? Is “Periplus” incomprehensible, indeed? The problem, therefore, lies in the mass media of promotion… Fortunately, there are alternative markets and distribution networks. In Portugal we are doing well! We are now getting ready for Brazil! In Hellas? We are working on it…
TM: This disc was produced while the economic and general crisis afflicting our country since 2010 had begun. Has this conjuncture, its circumstances and consequences, affected in any way the creative process and, if so, in what way?
Would the release of this material be possible without the support of exclusively Portuguese institutions? By the way, what can you say about the cultural policy of the official Hellenic state in the era of Memoranda and especially in the field of funding such projects?
ML: “Periplus” would be unthinkable without the support of the Society of Portuguese Authors (SPA) and the European Capital of Culture of Guimarães. Portugal observed some procedures (but not anymore); unlike what’s been happening here where we even rejoice singing that “the Hellenes make circuits and the groups of friends history”… It’s the natural consequence of the absence of cultural (or any other) policy. We are promoting the culture of Hellas abroad and, instead of “thanks”, she is trying to turn us into some kind of modern “(Josef) K.”s waiting outside “The Castle” to be received by some hot-shot executive…
TM: What are your plans concerning “Periplus” and beyond?
ML: “Periplus” was chosen as one of the best albums of the year in most Portuguese media and was nominated for the SPA prize as the best disc of 2012. I was lucky enough to work with a great artist and human being: Amélia Muge. So, no difficulty is insurmountable. The voyage goes on…
TM: What was the most important element that attracted you to Michales Loukovikas’ work and made you work with him?
Amélia Muge: The music Michales Loukovikas makes is of the future. He combines the Occident with the Orient, the traditional with the erudite, time and space, in a unique way; and with an irreprehensible choice of poetry he sets to music, like that e.g. by Ares Alexandrou.
TM: Do you think that this project goes beyond the reach of a disc and acquires a wider cultural scope? Would you say it belongs to the music of both Portugal and Hellas, or is it something else, different, born with the union of these two cultures or even more?
AM: “Periplus” has been a process of creation and initiation. We are dealing with musics and cultures older than our countries; or sailing to other seas, as with the morna of Cape Verde. The horizon of this work surpasses the horizon of both our civilizations.
TM: Finally, is the sea the most important element that links the civilizations and cultures of Greece and Portugal or is there something else which is more important?
AM: More important is the way we navigate in the “sea of mind” and the “ocean of sounds”, with the compass pointing to “Ithaca”, combining imagination and knowledge, creation and vision, focused on our artistic work – but always in touch with reality.
Sailing to Rio de Janeiro!
TÃO LONGE, TÃO PERTO
Music and Poetry in the Portuguese Language
(Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, May 2013)*
Testimony for discussion by Michales Loukovikas
Imagine what people like them, with raised brows, will say now that we are talking about a triangle (not that of the… Bermuda): Portugal, Brazil and Greece. Well, Portugal and Brazil, OK, the relation is obvious: former metropolis and colony; but… Greece?!!
I can tell you that the results of our collaboration astonished even us! Even me, I should add, that I have been researching this field for years, arriving to the conclusion that civilization, culture, is the result of give and take, of exchange. I have also shown in my radio programs that lands so far apart, like – say – India and Iberia, have been interconnected for thousands of years, since ancient times… Well, when the Hellenes say “ancient”, they mean BCE (before the common era), or BC (before Christ), if you like.
All these ideas were further reinforced when Amélia and I started working on Periplus. Of course, there are some “dark spots” still now; questions that remain unanswered. A big question for me e.g. is: how can Amélia, a Portuguese born in Mozambique, compose in an ancient style? You see, all three ancient Greek themes we have in Periplus (Seikilos’ Epitaph, the First Delphic Hymn to Apollo, and Mesomedes’ Hymn to Nemesis) were included because of her own compositions that reminded me of the ancient Hellenic songs mentioned above. It’s very strange, indeed.
However, apart from these “dark spots”, which will always challenge us to come up with some satisfactory answers, we were able to assemble the rest of the puzzle rather easily. And when our Periplus was released, I could say:
The Greek peninsula and archipelago was not a beginning in world history. The Hellenes received the wisdom from the Orient (Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Egypt) and turned it into science;(b) it was a great feat! And what they left behind was a marvelous literature – uma literatura maravilhosa, indeed! Thus the Hellenic civilization became the foundation of the Occidental cultures.
The extant periploi (plural of periplus) took place in the Mediterranean, the Indian and the Atlantic oceans. Herodotus also wrote about a periplus of Africa by Phoenicians on behalf of an Egyptian Pharaoh. A Greek from Alexandria, Egypt, described the Indian Ocean coasts of eastern Africa and India. Pytheas, from the Hellenic colony of Massalia (modern Marseille, France), voyaged north to the British Isles and Scandinavia and concluded a periplus of Europe sailing via European rivers from the Baltic to the Black Seas and back to the Mediterranean. There are also people that believe the Minoan Cretans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Punics, and other ancient peoples sailed to the Americas long before the Vikings or Columbus – or, of course, Magellan, who attempted a periplus of the world but was not fortunate enough to conclude it.
Therefore, these voyages started long before recorded history, in the Bronze Age. There are some historical clues that the Minoans in the time of their thalassocracy travelled as far as Cornwall, Britain, in search of tin – or else they obtained this important metal at ports of southern Gaul. Tin is a necessary component of bronze (± 90% copper plus ± 10% tin). There were vast quantities of copper in the Mediterranean. Cyprus e.g. was full of copper and the name Cyprus comes from copper (and vice versa). But tin? There were very few places in the Mediterranean with tin and in limited quantities.
The Minoans, and later the Greeks and the Phoenicians, sailed initially to Iberia that was rich in these minerals. The Andalusians probably led the Cretans to Galicia, Brittany and Cornwall: they knew the way… All of these places, especially Cornwall, had massive tin deposits. There, close to Galicia or even Cornwall, were the so-called Cassiterides Nesoi, the Tin Isles (cassíteros is tin in Greek). Herodotus and other historians write also about the links of the Hellenes and Phoenicians with Tartessos, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, and many people nowadays correlate the legendary Tartessos with the elusive Atlantis…
This research started out of some very simple questions:
• Where did the Bronze Age Mediterranean find tin to produce bronze?
• Who were the maritime traders of the time to bring this most crucial metal to the Mediterranean and where did they find it?
Our conclusion is that certain needs motivated the humans to live together, to communicate, to exchange. That’s how society was born, the cities were created, the classes and division of labour emerged and writing was invented. The interaction concerned material needs but at the same time transformed the people that worked together exchanging also ideas and ideals, a process that led to the birth of civilization, of culture.
It is not so obvious but we have something like a “periplus” in other human endeavours, too. Music was born together with speech. In an advanced stage, in ancient Hellas, music was either instrumental or song. Poetry in classical Greece was inconceivable without music. The two arts got… divorce later, in the 4th century BCE. However, either before or after, a “periplus” was (and still is) needed to combine sounds with words, and to express the meaning of the words through sounds. Something similar also happens in a translation: then the “periplus” concerns two languages. It is the voyage of a text, its meaning and style, content and form, while it is adapted in order to start breathing in another language environment…
The Odyssey is a kind of a poetic “periplus”. According to the Lusitanians, the wanderings of Odysseus (Ulysses) were Luso-Hellenic, as well: he founded Lisbon and had a child with the Iberian princess Calypso. Homer described Odysseus’ descent into Hades, the underworld, which was outside the Pillars of Heracles, that is, the Strait of Gibraltar. The Hellenes located in the same area the Garden of the Hesperides and the Makaron Nesoi, that is, the Fortunate Isles, the Islands of the Blessed, or Elysium, what today is thought to be Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, the Canaries, and Cape Verde).
Dante, in his Inferno, cites another version of Odysseus’ descent into the underworld with no return. The king of Ithaca, he writes, went out of the Pillars of Hercules and sailed south, crossed the Equator, continued voyaging for months, until he reached a bay with a big mountain. Then a tornado sank his boat.
I don’t know why, but I think this bay with the big mountain is… the River of January: Rio de Janeiro! I would really love to confirm that…
GIORGOS ANDREOU sobre o “PERIPLUS”
O que torna “Periplus” particularmente interessante é o facto de não ser um registo de música tradicional, seja de Portugal ou da Grécia. Quer dizer, não é um álbum que tenta simplemente agregar, de algum modo, uma parte da tradição e a sua sonoridade. Em qualquer caso, isso seria mais uma questão de folclore e não de criação. É claro que faz uso de elementos de ambas as tradições em quantidade considerável. Mas o característico do “Periplus” é o seu dinamismo emanado destes dois cantoautores, Amélia Muge e Michales Loukovikas, que compuseram música original e trabalharam a sua matéria musical usando vários recursos na linguagem poética da canção: versos de poetas quer gregos quer portugueses, versos da antiga literatura helénica, ou da sua própria linguagem moderna, ou ainda, em menor grau, algumas canções populares de cada tradição, portuguesa ou grega, sem grandes alterações, onde, é claro, o objectivo é demonstrar as analogias que existem nesta grande bacia chamada Mediterrâneo.
Nesta grande bacia chamada Mediterrâneo, o grande viajante – infelizmente para os portugueses e para o resto dos povos do planeta – foi um grego antigo (mas também moderno no meu ponto de vista) chamado Odisseu (Ulisses). Neste caso, Odisseu é um arquétipo universal. Fundou, entre outras coisas, Lisboa, como o embaixador de Portugal acabou de dizer. Assim, ele até foi capaz de realizar este feito, para lá do seu envolvimento com os Lestrigões, os Ciclopes, Circe, Nausícaa, etc.
Contudo, o que é importante quer na tradição portuguesa quer na grega – e gostaria de o dizer muito seriamente – é o facto de ela ter emergido como música popular urbana precisamente porque não houve como antecendente um profundo desenvolvimento de uma música clássica, “académica”. É claro que há importantes compositores de música académica na Grécia; é claro que os há em Portugal; mas nem a Grécia nem Portugal têm Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Corelli, Scarlatti, Bellini, Puccini, etc. Constatou-se que onde, por várias razões históricas e culturais, não houve um desenvolvimento da linguagem académica musical, o que chamamos música clássica, há espaço para uma maior energética memória da tradição e ainda mais espaço para o desenvolvimento e apropriação desta tradição na sua transição para um meio urbano. É assim o fado, o rebétiko e é assim o blues, o tango… E todo o tipo de música que agora consideramos como emanação da tradição, e que é essencialmente popular, cresceu sobretudo num ambiente onde o peso da grande música sinfónica académica era inexistente.
Existem, é claro, grandes diferenças entre o fado e o rebétiko, como também um grande número de analogias. As analogias são exactamente as implícitas pelo ambiente geográfico e cultural que mencionei anteriormente, denominado Mediterrâneo, que determina uma atitude face á vida, uma postura existencial, á gente de culturas vivendo à volta dele. E o que é isso? É, no meu ponto de vista, a possibilidade de valorizar e dar uma grande importância à dôr individual. Se concordamos, como os nossos amigos portugueses, que existe na nossa música algo que nos liga, isso está na forma como lidamos com o âmago emocional da música; quer nas palavras – a aventura individual, existencial, de cada um – quer na música. Quer dizer a nossa faculdade musical, isto é, a nossa forma de entender o que é a canção. Porque falamos do fado como uma canção, falamos da nossa música de tradição popular como uma canção. E a canção necessita de um herói e de um companheiro do herói. O herói é o cantor e o companheiro, o instrumento que o acompanha. A guitarra portuguesa, no caso de Portugal, o bouzouki no nosso caso, têm este papel. É um duo, um duo de silêncio, um duo longe das grandes formas sinfónicas ‘fechadas’, um duo convincente, um duo de profunda e comovente emoção.
Eu gosto do “Periplus” porque é o esforço, a atenção, o testemunho dinâmico de dois autores, um português outro grego, que compõem originais, tendo em conta ao mesmo tempo de onde vêm e para onde vão. Para mim isto é a quintessência da criação, de toda a criação musical: respeitar as origens, de onde se vem, e ao mesmo tempo ser-se capaz de entrar em diálogo com elas e redefini-las. Porque uma tradição que não é redefinida e que não progride, morre e transforma-se numa mera atitude passadista e pitoresca.
Outra coisa que me impressionou no trabalho da Amélia e do Michales: a existencia de alguns títulos, algumas sequências. O carácter destas sequências não é tanto investigativo, musicológico ou classificativo, mas antes emotivo e artístico. Sinto-me compelido a mencioná-las porque elas mesmas fazem nascer pensamentos e sentimentos. A primeira é “Das Ausências” e a segunda “Dos Caminhos”. É de notar que para nós, gregos, o sentido de “caminho” aplica-se também ás escalas musicais populares. A terceira sequencia é “Dos Cantos”. A palavra “canto” em grego (tragoudi) deriva da antiga tragédia helénica; é melos, que é melodia; é a selecção de uma parte de um todo maior, mas uma parte de grande importância emotiva, ética, conceptual e musical. Segue-se “Das Ilhas”. A ilha transporta um especial simbolismo. É uma parte de terra rodeada por uma parte do mar. É uma parte da razão rodeada pelo mar do subconsciente. Depois temos “Das Vozes”. A voz, como disse anteriormente, é o instrumento da canção. Não é por acaso que nesta sequência estão canções com antigos textos gregos, poesia grega antiga, em conjunto com alguns elementos tradicionais. Temos, portanto, tradições que se relacionam.
Depois vem a sequencia “Dos Embalos”. Uma canção de embalar é o que dedicamos ao pilar que se segue na existência humana quando alguém não lembra nem sente, o sono-morte. Há muita literatura e discursos filosóficos na civilização helénica antiga sobre a conexão entre o sono e a morte. A sequencia que se segue é “Dos Amores” com a variação de uma nossa deslumbrante canção tradicional “A folha da rosa” que foi encontrada também na música portuguesa numa similar, quase idêntica forma e atitude emotiva. A sequencia seguinte “De Profundis”, é, evidentemente, uma confissão em matéria de existencia, amor, emoção. O excelente “Os meus ditames” está aqui incluído, com versos de Ares Alexandrou e música de Michales Loukovikas, do seu trabalho prévio, “O Ouro do Céu”, dedicado ao grande pensador, poeta e autor grego.
Segue-se “Das Tascas e Tavernas”, com a supra-citada similitude na atitude dos povos de ambas as culturas. Evidentemente, que, uma vez que estamos a falar da relação da tradição com a criação pessoal, a canção que Michales e Amélia escolheram, “Os mangas da taverna”, não é de um grego desconhecido, mas do grande compositor Panaiotes Tountas. Tountas, um dos mais eruditos e importantes compositores de canções populares, tendo estudado música, foi, durante seu período esmirnaico, quase um músico académico e, ao mesmo tempo, popular. Finalmente, há a sequência “Tão longe tão perto”, um registo poético de semelhanças e diferenças, com o momento alto e, quanto a mim, o ponto mais alto do CD, na paralela interpretação da mesma canção com Eleni Tsaligopoulou em grego e Amélia Muge em português. É, emocionalmente, um momento muito importante, eu considero-o um climax; na verdade fiquei sem fala. O CD acaba com a canção que se justifica ter alguma subjectividade por parte da Amélia, uma canção dedicada a uma prévia importante presença, a de Violeta Parra, de quem uma composição foi de algum modo referência e fonte de inspiração para a Amélia.
Gostava de concluir dizendo que há composições muito importantes em “Periplus”, quer de Amélia Muge quer de Michales Loukovikas, e este é para mim, o mérito do CD. Para lá das conexões, para lá das analogias entre culturas, para lá da intenção de mostrar, demonstrar de novo e redefinir fronteiras e contactos de muitos géneros, o que é importante, para mim, é se se consegue produzir uma obra de arte. Quando, em qualquer situação, é produzida uma obra de arte, todas as intenções prévias se justificam. Se não houver obra de arte, tudo o resto são apenas slogans que não se concretizaram.
Muito bem, meus amigos, e continuem!
Discurso durante a apresentação do “Periplus”
na livraria “Jano” em Atenas a 23 de Outubro de 2012
PERIPLUS: Deambulações luso-gregas
PERIPLUS, significando circum-navegação, refere-se ás antigas viagens no Mediterrâneo e para lá dele, no oceano Atlântico e Índico. Escolhemos este termo para representar a nossa própria viagem no tempo e no espaço à volta da cultura mediterrânica e de todas as outras que floresceram através do contacto com este berço civilizacional.
Focalizámo-nos na ligação entre a música e a poesia, especialmente a dos nossos países, Portugal e Grécia. É por isso que os que vêm a bordo do Periplus são principalmente portugueses e gregos, embora sejamos tudo menos exclusivistas: construir pontes, abrir janelas, é o que fazemos melhor, trabalhando em conjunto, sobretudo via internet.
O nosso objectivo foi o de trabalhar a música e poesia numa contemporaneidade inspirada no riquíssimo comum património artístico, não apenas erudito mas também popular. Assim, para lá das músicas de nossa autoria incluímos, recuando até à música e poesia grega antiga e adaptando, de acordo com a nossa sensibilidade, o Primeiro Hino délfico dedicado a Apolo, composto provavelmente por Athenaeus, o Hino a Némesis de Mesomedes e o Epitáfio de Seikilos.
Dentro do mesmo espírito trabalhámos temas tradicionais como o português Cantiga de rega, o grego Syrtós cretense, o igualmente cretense Pesado como ferro, o epirótico Meu pássaro emigrado e o rebético Os mangas da taverna que aqui dialoga com o equivalente canto urbano português, o fado. Partindo ainda da morna de Cabo Verde aportamos nas escalas pentatónicas de África e do Épiro. Também encontrámos proximidades e referencias comuns nas canções de embalar e lenga-lengas de ambos os países, e uma quase identica lírica entre Da folhinha de uma rosa portuguesa e galega, e A folha da rosa, uma canção grega oriunda da Ásia Menor.
Estão presentes poetas de que muito gostamos: Ares Alexandrou com Nota ilegal, Canção de embalar e Os meus ditames; Fernando Pessoa com Calma; Constantino Cavafy com Ítaca; Natália Correia com Cântico do país emerso; e Hélia Correia com a sua adaptação do Epitáfio de Seikilos, que ela aqui canta no original grego antigo.
Além de Hélia Correia temos mais convidados especiais: a cantora grega Eleni Tsaligopoulou e também a Outra Voz, Coro de Cidadãos, criado no âmbito do Área da Comunidade, de Guimarães Capital Europeia da Cultura. Esta participação da sociedade civil é para nós crucial, no esforço de ligação entre o popular e o erudito, a tradição e a inovação, o antigo e o moderno, a grecofonia e a lusofonia, o longe e o perto.
Amélia Muge & Michales Loukovikas
PERIPLUS: Luso-Hellenic Wanderings
PERIPLUS, meaning “sailing around”, refers to the ancient voyages around the Mediterranean and beyond, in the Atlantic and the Indian oceans. We have chosen this term to signify our own voyage in time and space around the Mediterranean culture and all the others that blossomed coming into contact with this cradle of civilization.
Our focus is the union of music and poetry, especially those of our countries, Portugal and Hellas. That is why most of those aboard Periplus are Portuguese and Greeks, although we are anything but an exclusive club: building bridges, opening windows, is our specialty, working together mainly via the internet.
Our aim is to create new music and poetry, inspired by the great arts of the past, our rich, common heritage, not only erudite but also folk. Thus, except our own original songs, we have gone as far back as the ancient Hellenic music and poetry, adapting according to our sensibilities the First Delphic Hymn, dedicated to Apollo, probably composed by Athenaeos (circa 138-128 BCE), the Epitaph by Seikilos (sometime between 2nd century BCE and 1st century CE), and the Hymn to Nemesis by Mesomedes of Crete (early 2nd century CE).
In the same spirit, we have worked on folk themes, such as the Portuguese Watering Song, the Greek Cretan Syrtos, the equally Cretan Heavy As Iron, the Epirotic My Immigrant Bird, and the Rebetiko The Manges of the Tavern, which we combine with its Portuguese equivalent, the Fado, while from the Cape-Verdian Morna we land to the pentatone of Africa and Epirus. We have also found common grounds and references in lullabies and children’s rhymes of both countries and also in the love song The Foliage of a Rose as sung by Greeks, Portuguese and Galicians with almost identical lyrics.
Some of the poets we have loved are present here: Ares Alexandrou with his Illegal Note, Lullaby, and The Inner Dictates; Fernando Pessoa with his Calm, Constantine Cavafy with his Ithaca; Natália Correia with her Ode to an Emersed Land; and Hélia Correia with her adaptation of the Epitaph by Seikilos, which she sings in the original ancient Greek.
Except Hélia Correia, we have more special guests: the Greek singer Eleni Tsaligopoulou, and also Outra Voz, a choir of Guimarães citizens, created after their city had been designated as a European Capital of Culture. This participation of the civil society is crucial for us in our effort to link the folk with the erudite, the traditional with the innovative, the ancient with the modern, the Graecophone with the Lusophone, the nearby with the distant.
Amélia Muge & Michales Loukovikas
Comentários sobre o “PERIPLUS” na imprensa
Nuno Pacheco, “Público” – 20 Fevereiro 2012
Amélia e Michales completaram a primeira viagem intermusical da era moderna entre Portugal e a Grécia, fazendo o que até aqui ninguém tinha feito: estreitando laços, entrelaçando notas (as musicais, que as outras rareiam), compondo novos itinerários a partir de antigas rotas…
CIRCUM-NAVEGAÇÃO ÀS RAÍZES DO FUTURO
Maria Ramos Silva, “i” – 21 Fevereiro 2012
Um entendimento inato em afinidades musicais, generosidade e contagiante sentido de humor. Amélia e Michales, um Portugal-Grécia na liderança do campeonato das pontes entre os povos…
Um caldeirão de sons onde se cozinham afinidades culturais além-fronteiras da crise…
Nuno Pacheco, “Público/Ípsilon” – 24 Fevereiro 2012
Amélia Muge fez com Michales Loukovikas o disco que ainda ninguém tinha feito. Une Portugal e a Grécia, Ocidente e Oriente, passado e futuro…
Amélia Muge e Michales Loukovikas, num tempo em que a crise varre Portugal e a Grécia, põem em “Periplus” a força das antigas epopeias, propondo uma viagem musical luso-grega que abarca, na mesma aventura, outras culturas vizinhas, da Ásia à África…
“Periplus”, uma ideia cara a Amélia Muge, era desde o início uma aposta arriscada. Unir culturas do Mediterrâneo às vizinhas do Atlântico e do Índico, misturando Ocidente e Oriente sem cair em “pastiches” multiculturais de duvidoso gosto, exigia uma enorme dose de dedicação, empenho e sabedoria. A pedra de toque encontrou-a Amélia na ligação entre Portugal e a Grécia, ao trabalhar com Michales Loukovikas (excelente descoberta) e dividir com ele e mais um lote de músicos de grande talento, portugueses e gregos, tal aventura. O resultado é um diamante polido até quase à perfeição…
Isto numa abordagem contemporânea onde as linhas melódicas e rítmicas dos dois países se aproximam, interligam e desafiam de forma natural e fluída, como se sempre tivessem sido vizinhas e conversado assim…
João Lisboa, “Expresso/Atual” – 25 Fevereiro 2012
Mediterrâneo, portanto. Que teve como porto de partida para a sua exploração o interesse pela obra do poeta grego Ares Alexandrou… e se prolongou através de uma busca intuitiva de pontos de contacto e traços de identidade comuns que… basta descobrir…
João Moço, “Diário de Notícias” – 25 Fevereiro 2012
Este encontro musical entre Portugal e Grécia ganha também um redobrado simbolismo numa altura em que ambos os países enfrentam intensos problemas sociais…
Nuno Rogeiro, “Sábado” – 1 Março 2012
Sigo com interesse, há décadas, o caminho singular de Amélia Muge, entre a tradição mítica e os temas “sociais”. Mas “Periplus, deambulações luso-gregas” é ainda mais belo. Músicos e instrumentos de cá, e da península arquipelágica helénica, a Odisseia em sons, o Mediterrâneo real e imaginário, o Ocidente onde Portugal repousa, sonha e sofre, com duas grandes baladas: “Pesado como ferro” e “Zum Zum”.
João Miguel Tavares, “Time Out” – 21 Março 2012
… Há uma imensa ironia no facto de “Periplus”, que tem como subtítulo “deambulações luso-gregas”, celebrar essa espécie de cordão umbilical mediterrânico que une a Grécia a Portugal pelo menos desde o mito da fundação de Lisboa, atribuída a Ulisses. Irmãos na falência económica, eis que os dois países se unem aqui para celebrar a sua riqueza cultural ao abrigo de qualquer austeridade – os discos de Amélia Muge são uma luxuosa filigrana de sons, instrumentos e versos, e “Periplus” não foge à regra.
Mais do que isso: são sempre tudo menos óbvios. Se ela aqui se une ao músico e compositor grego Michales Loukovikas, não é para criar um europudim, com guitarra braguesa e bouzouki. Sim, há uma guitarra braguesa, e sim, há bouzouki, tal como há traços de rebétiko e de fado, há versos de Pessoa e hinos délficos. Mas nada é abordado de uma forma convencional – bem pelo contrário, cada faixa é um acumular de surpresas, seja em “Deixa Brilhar”,(*) onde Hélia Correia canta (sim, canta) em grego, seja por exemplo, em “Da folhinha de uma Rosa”, um tema magnífico que resume na perfeição a forma como é possível fazer um patchwork luso-galaico-grego sem deixar uma única costura à mostra…
(*) É o “Epitáfio” composto por Seikilos, algures depois do 2º século AC; um epigrama gravado numa pedra tumular cilíndrica contendo o texto e a música (nos símbolos da antiga notação grega): temos portanto uma canção, a canção completa mais antiga que existe. A pedra tumular foi encontrada em Aydin, a antiga Trales, na Ásia Menor, perto de Éfeso. O nosso título decorre da primeira frase (segundo adaptação de Hélia Correia): Ó mortal, deixa brilhar…
Quando um dia nos encontrámos com a Hélia, dissémos-lhe, entre outras coisas, que o “Epitáfio” iria ser incluído no “Periplus”. Para nossa grande surpresa, ela não só conhecia a composição de Seikilos (coisa que grande parte dos gregos ignora), como começou imediatamente a cantá-la em grego antigo! Quem melhor do que ela poderia cantá-la no disco? E assim surgiu o convite…
Critical remarks on “PERIPLUS” in the Press
Nuno Pacheco, “Público” – February 20, 2012
Amélia and Michales have completed the first intermusical voyage of the modern era between Portugal and Greece, doing what no-one else has done until now: strengthening links, interconnecting notes (the musical ones, because the others are rare), creating new itineraries with ancient routes as starting points…
Maria Ramos Silva, “i” – February 21, 2012
An innate understanding of musical affinities, generosity and contagious sense of humour. Amélia and Michales, a Portugal-Greece in the leadership of the championship of building bridges among peoples…
A cauldron of sounds where cultural affinities are cooked beyond the frontiers of crisis…
Nuno Pacheco, “Público/Ípsilon” – February 24, 2012
Amélia Muge has made, together with Michales Loukovikas, the disc that no-one else has produced yet, uniting Portugal and Greece, Occident and Orient, past and future…
Amélia Muge and Michales Loukovikas, in a time that the crisis sweeps Portugal and Greece, put in “Periplus” the vigour of the ancient epics, proposing a Luso-Hellenic musical voyage that encompasses, within the same adventure, other neighbouring cultures, from Asia to Africa…
“Periplus”, an idea so dear to Amélia Muge, has been a risky bet since the beginning. Uniting cultures of the Mediterranean with neighbouring ones of the Atlantic and of the Indian oceans, mixing the Occident and the Orient without giving in to multicultural “pastiches” of dubious taste, demands an enormous dose of dedication, determination and knowledge. The touchstone came across Amélia in the link of Portugal and Greece, working with Michales Loukovikas (an excellent discovery) and sharing with him and a lot of musicians of great talent, Portuguese and Greeks, such an adventure. The result is a diamond polished to the point of almost perfection…
All this in a contemporary approach where the melodic and rhythmic lines of the two countries approximate, interconnect and challenge each other in a natural and fluid form, as if they have always been neighbours and conversed like that…
João Lisboa, “Expresso/Atual” – February 25, 2012
Mediterranean, of course. Which had as a port of departure for its exploration the interest about the work of the Greek poet Ares Alexandrou… and was prolonged through an intuitive search of points of contact and common identity features that… one needs only to discover…
João Moço, “Diário de Notícias” – February 25, 2012
This musical meeting between Portugal and Greece gains a double symbolism, as well, in a moment that both countries face intense social problems…
Nuno Rogeiro, “Sábado” – March 1, 2012
For decades now, I have been following with interest the singular path of Amélia Muge between a mythical tradition and the “social” themes. But “Periplus, Luso-Hellenic Wanderings” is even more beautiful. Musicians and instruments, from here and from the Hellenic archipelagic peninsula, an Odyssey in sounds, the Mediterranean, real and imaginary, the Occident where Portugal reposes, dreams and suffers, with two grand ballads: “Heavy as Iron” and “Zum Zum”.
João Miguel Tavares, “Time Out” – March 21, 2012
… There is an immense irony in the fact that “Periplus”, which has as a subtitle “Luso-Hellenic Wanderings”, celebrates that sort of Mediterranean umbilical cord linking Greece with Portugal at least since the myth of the foundation of Lisbon, that is attributed to Ulysses. Brothers in the economic bankruptcy, the two countries join forces here to celebrate their cultural wealth on the face of any austerity – Amélia Muge’s discs are a luxurious filigree of sounds, instruments and verses, and “Periplus” is no exception.
More than that: they are always anything but obvious. If she joins here forces with the Greek musician and composer Michales Loukovikas, it is not to create an euro-pudding with a braguesa guitar and a bouzouki. Yes, there is a braguesa guitar, and yes, there is a bouzouki, as there are traces of rebetiko and fado, there are Pessoa’s verses and Delphic hymns. But nothing is approached in a conventional way – quite the contrary, each track is an accumulation of surprises, as in “Shine”,(*) where Hélia Correia sings (yes, sings) in Greek, as for example in “The Foliage of a Rose”, a magnificent theme that sums up perfectly how it is possible to make a Luso-Galician-Greek patchwork without leaving a single seam on display…
(*) It is the “Epitaph” composed by Seikilos sometime after the 2nd century BC; an epigram engraved on a cylindrical tombstone with lyrics and music (the symbols of the ancient Greek notation): that is, we have a song, the oldest extant complete song in the world. The tombstone was found in Aydin, ancient Tralles, nearby Ephesus, in Asia Minor. Our title derives from the first verse: While you live, shine…
One day we met Hélia Correia and, among other things, we told her that this “Epitaph” will be included in “Periplus”. To our great surprise, Hélia not only knew Seikilos’ composition (which most Greek musicians ignore), but she immediately began to sing it in ancient Greek! We then decided that Hélia was entitled to sing the “Epitaph” in the disc, as well…
GIORGOS ANDREOU on “PERIPLUS”
What makes “Periplus” characteristically interesting is the fact that it is not a record of traditional music, either of Portugal or of Hellas. That is, it is not a disc that simply attempts to compose in some way a part of tradition and sounds. At any rate this would be more a matter of folklore and not of creation. Of course, elements of both these related traditions are used in a considerable extent. But the characteristic of “Periplus” is its dynamism emanating from two songwriters, Amélia Muge and Michales Loukovikas, who have composed original music and worked on their musical material using several sources in the poetic language of song: verses of poets, either Greek or Portuguese, verses from ancient Hellenic literature, or of their own modern language, or even, to a lesser extent, by quoting some folk or popular songs of each tradition, Portuguese or Greek, with no major changes, where, of course, the aim is to demonstrate the analogies that exist in this great womb called Mediterranean.
The great voyager in this great womb called Mediterranean – unfortunately for the Portuguese and all the rest people of the planet – has been an ancient (and modern in my view) Hellene called Odysseus. In this matter Odysseus is a universal archetype. Apart from other things, he has also founded Lisbon, as the Portuguese ambassador has just said. Therefore, he has managed to do even that, except dealing with the Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, Circe, Nausicaa, etc.
However, what is important in the tradition of Portugal or in the tradition of Hellas – and I would like to say that in earnest – is the fact that it has emerged as a popular, urban music precisely because there has been no background of a profoundly developed classical, academic music. It is clear that there are important composers of academic music in Greece, it is clear there are also in Portugal; but neither Greece nor Portugal has produced any Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Corelli, Scarlatti, Bellini, Puccini, and so on. Where – for several historic and cultural reasons – there has been no development of the academic language of music, what we call classical music, there proved to be room for a more energetic memory of tradition, and even more room for the development and acquisition of this tradition in its transition to an urban environment. This is fado, this is rebetiko, and this is blues, tango… And all kinds of music that we now consider as emanating from tradition, being essentially popular, have mostly blossomed in an environment where the weight of a major academic symphonic music tradition has been non-existent.
There are, of course, great differences between fado and rebetiko, as there are a great number of analogies. The analogies are exactly those implied by the geographic and cultural environment I have mentioned before, called Mediterranean, which dictates an attitude in life, an existential stance, to the members of the cultures living around her. And what is that? It is in my view the possibility to highlight and give major importance to personal sorrow. If in our music we agree on something that really connects us with our Portuguese friends is the way we deal with the emotional core of music; both in lyrics, the personal adventure of each one’s existence, and also in music. I mean the attribute of music, that is, the way we perceive the song. Because we speak of fado as a song, we speak of our popular music tradition as a song. And the song needs a hero, and a hero’s companion. The hero is the singer, and the hero’s companion is the instrument that accompanies him. The Portuguese guitar in the case of Portugal, the bouzouki in our case, plays this role. It is a duo, a duo of silence, a duo far from the grand symphonic ‘closed’ forms, a convincing duo, a duo of profound and moving emotion.
I like “Periplus” because it is the endeavour, the attempt, the dynamic testimony of two authors, one Portuguese and one Hellene, to compose original stuff taking into account at the same time where they come from and where they go. For me this is the quintessence of creation, of all musical creation: to respect your origin, where you come from, and at the same time to be able to converse with it and to redefine it. Because a tradition that is not redefined, and does not advance, dies and becomes a dead, picturesque attitude.
Another thing that impressed me in the work by Michales and Amélia: There are some titles, some chapters. The character of these chapters is not so much related to research, musicology, or classification, but rather to emotions and artistic pursuits. I feel obliged to mention them because they themselves give rise to thoughts and feelings. The first is “Absences” and the second “Routes”. Note that for us Greeks the concept of “routes” describes also the folk musical scales. The third category is “Songs”. The word “song” in Greek (“τραγούδι”) comes from the ancient Hellenic tragedy, it is “melos”, that is, melody; it is the selection of a subset from a greater whole, but a subset of great importance for the emotion, ethos, meaning, and music, melody, included. There follow the “Islands”. The island brings forth a special symbolism. It is a part of earth surrounded by a part of sea; a part of reason surrounded by the sea of the subconscious. Then we have the “Voices”. The voice, as I have said before, is the tool of the song. It is not by chance that this category includes songs on ancient Greek texts, on ancient Greek poetry, together with some traditional elements. Therefore we have traditions connected.
There comes the category “Lullabies”. A lullaby is what we dedicate to the next pillar of human existence when one does not remember nor feel, that is, a sleep-death. There is extensive literature and philosophic discourse in the ancient Hellenic civilization about the connection of sleep and death. The category that follows is “Loves”, with a variation of a breathtaking traditional song of ours, “The Leaves of the Rose”, which is found in a similar, almost identical, form and emotive attitude in Portuguese music, as well. The next category, “De Profundis”, is, of course, a confession in matters of existence, love, emotion. The excellent “The Inner Dictates” is included here, on verses by Ares Alexandrou and music by Michales Loukovikas, from a previous work, “The Gold in the Sky”, dedicated to the great Greek thinker, poet and author.
There follow the “Fado and Rebetiko Taverns”, with the above-mentioned affinity of the people’s reflexes in both cultures. Of course, since we are talking about the relation of tradition to personal creation, the song that Michales and Amélia have chosen, “The Manges of the Tavern”, is not a piece by some unknown Hellene, but by the great composer Panaiotes Tountas. Tountas, one of the most erudite and important composers of popular songs who had studied music, was almost an academic musician during his Smyrnaic period and at the same time popular. Finally, there is the sequence “So Distant, So Near”, a poetic record of differences and similarities, with the high point for me, which I consider as the high point of the CD, of the parallel interpretation of the same song by Eleni Tsaligopoulou in Greek and by Amélia Muge in Portuguese. Emotionally it is a very important moment, I consider it the climax; indeed, I was overwhelmed. The CD finishes with a song that is justified to have a subjective tone on the part of Amélia, a song dedicated to a previous important presence, that of Violeta Parra, a song of whom was a kind of a guide and a source of inspiration for Amélia.
I would like to conclude saying that there are very important musical compositions in “Periplus” by both, Amélia Muge and Michales Loukovikas, and this is for me the merit of the CD. Beyond connections, beyond analogies among cultures, beyond intentions to show, demonstrate anew and redefine borders and contacts of every kind, what is important for me is if we can produce a work of art. When a work of art is produced in any occasion, then all previous intentions are justified. If there is no work of art, all the rest are nothing but slogans that are not realized.
Well done, my friends, and keep it on!
Speech during the presentation of “Periplus”
“Janus” Bookstores, Athens, October 23, 2012
MICHALES LOUKOVIKAS – bio
Born into a musical family of Thrace, Michales Loukovikas has been a versatile musician since he was 15 (varied music, rock, songwriting, setting poetry to music, music for the theatre and cinema, rebetiko, modal music). He also collaborated in the writing and production of various plays, and worked as a radio producer.
He graduated in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessalonica and worked as a teacher and translator of English, editor, and journalist, specializing on the international arena and culture (news, analyses, historical chronicles, music, art, education, and editorials).
A series of articles on exchange in the Mediterranean, Mediterranean Paraplus (a synonym to Periplus), evolved into a successful radio program lasting for twelve years. It came after similar programs such as Flamenco: the Rebetiko of Andalusia, adapting Donn Pohren’s The Art of Flamenco, and indicating also the similarities between the two genres.
Realizing the differences in music between the Orient and the Occident, he focused on the modal tradition. Turning points in his research were his acquaintance with Ross Daly in 1987 and his participation in the International Musicological Symposium at Delphi on Mediterranean music in the next year.
A result of his research was The Gold in the Sky, a West-to-East musical voyage based on Ares Alexandrou’s poetry, featuring 35 distinguished musicians (such as Manos Achalinotopoulos, Giorgos Andreou, Ross Daly, Kyriakos Gouventas, Harris Lambrakis, Kostas Theodorou) and singers (Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Andreas Karakotas), released in Hellas in 2008.
His meeting with Amélia Muge in the Internet has led to a productive partnership, initially with the adaptation of her songs into English in Uma Autora, 202 Canções, and then with the Portuguese version of The Gold in the Sky in the bilingual book-disc O Ouro do Céu / Ares Alexandrou por Michales Loukovikas, issued in Portugal in 2011.
Amélia and Michales had in the meantime carried out their own Luso-Hellenic Periplus, adapting ancient and traditional songs, as well as composing new ones on line: Periplus / deambulações luso-gregas (Periplus / Luso-Hellenic Wanderings as an international edition) was released in 2012 with special guests such as the poetess Hélia Correia, E. Tsaligopoulou, M. Achalinotopoulos, K. Gouventas, H. Lambrakis, and the vocal ensemble Outra Voz from Guimarães.
Michales also took part in Amélia’s latest work on Amália Rodrigues’ verses, Amélia com Versos de Amália (artistic direction, composition, arrangement and an English version of the verses). The disc was rated as the best album of 2014 in Portugal (Expresso and Público).
The voyage goes on…
Some concerts and festivals
• February 2012: Centro Cultural Vila Flor (Guimarães, Portugal).
• February 2012: Culturgest (Lisbon, Portugal).
• July 2012: Festival Músicas do Mundo (Sines, Portugal).
• May 2013: Festival Tão Longe, Tão Perto (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
• October 2013: Demetria Festival (Thessalonica, Hellas).
• The Society of Portuguese Authors (SPA) selected the disc among the three best albums of 2012.
• The jury of the Sopa da Pedra blogspot elected it as the best album of the year.
• The Expresso newspaper as the 2nd best disc.
• Crónicas da Terra of Terra Pura radio as the 2nd best folk album in Europe.
• Mundofonias of RTVE selected it among the best discs of 2012 in the world.
• Periplus was also nominated for the British fRoots charter with the ten best albums of the year.
• 2002: Radio… +positions, 9.58 fm music producers
• 2003: Alexandria – Athens, Paris Paraschopoulos, Actis Aeliou theatrical company
• 2008: The Gold in the Sky, Michales Loukovikas, Ares Alexandrou
• 2009: Uma Autora, 202 Canções, Amélia Muge
• 2011: O Ouro do Céu / Ares Alexandrou por Michales Loukovikas
• 2012: Periplus / deambulações luso-gregas, Amélia Muge, Michales Loukovikas
• 2012: Periplus / Luso-Hellenic Wanderings (international edition)
• 2014: Amélia com Versos de Amália, Amélia Muge, Amália Rodrigues
Chronicle 7. AN IBERIAN PERIPLUS REVIVAL
THE PHOENICIANS started building their trading monopoly in the 11th century BCE, after the Sea Peoples‘ raids and the Bronze Age collapse, enjoying a free hand while their antagonists were passing through a “Dark Age”. Arriving at the other side of the Mediterranean, they became trading ‘partners’ with the ‘silver’ Tartessians. Profiting from the wealth of the region and also from the hospitality of the locals, a few Phoenicians settled in their cities. This was implied by Strabo when he wrote that “the best cities of Tartessos were inhabited by the Phoenicians”.
Later they built a harbour of their own nearby. It was Gadir, the ‘walled city’, called Gadeira by the Greeks and Gades by the Romans (modern Cádiz).(a) Its founding is dated traditionally to 1104 BCE although no archaeological strata there can be dated earlier than the 9th century. Thus we assume that in its earliest days it was merely a small seasonal trading post. According to Hellenic legend, the city was founded by Heracles on Erytheia, Geryon‘s island, after killing him. One of its notable features in antiquity was the temple dedicated to the Phoenician god Melqart, associated with Heracles by the Greeks. It was still standing during the 1st century, and some historians, based in part on this information, believe that the columns of this temple were the origin of the myth of the Pillars of Heracles.
Soon the entire coastline around this strategic area on both seas, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, as well as on both continents, Europe and Africa, was full of Phoenician settlements. However, they were more densely concentrated there in the south than further up the coast. Thus the Hellenes, when they finally re-appeared on the scene, were able to establish their own trading emporia along the northeastern coast before venturing into the Phoenician zone. Encouraged by the Tartessians, who probably desired to end the Phoenician economic monopoly, the Greeks founded Mainake (or Maenaca), very close to the Phoenician Malaca, on the coast of Málaga. The Massaliote Periplus, which gives an account of a sea voyage in the 6th century BCE, places Mainake under the aegis and in the dominion of Tartessos: Iberia was far too important for anyone to ignore…
Regarding the uncertainty on the whereabouts of Mainake, Strabo in his Geographica pointed out that its ruins, close to Malaca, could still be seen in his time (64 BCE – 24 CE); and collated the regular Greek urban plan versus the haphazard Semitic layout of the Phoenician site, whose location suggests it was a more dense and irregular urban cluster than neighbouring Mainake.(b) However, even if we are still puzzled about the latter’s exact site and life span, the Hellenic cities on the Mediterranean coast of Iberia probably appeared on the map after the foundation of Massalia (modern Marseille) ca 600 BCE by Phocaeans from Ionia in Asia Minor – something that the Punics had tried but failed to prevent. Massalia became a thriving trading centre and a major rival of Carthage for the Iberian markets and especially the tin trade through Gaul.
The Phocaeans then founded Alalia in Corsica ca 566 BCE, and later moved towards Iberia. There are certain popular theories that at least one of their settlements, Rhode (today’s Roses) at the northeastern tip of Iberia, goes back to the 8th century BCE, and that the colonists were from the Aegean island of Rhodes; but it seems more probable that it was founded in the 5th century BCE by Massaliotes, perhaps with an admixture of colonists from nearby Emporion (modern Empúries). Maybe, as in the case of the Phoenician settlement in Gadir, Rhode was nothing more than a small seasonal trading post in the 8th century; or perhaps the colonists that settled there three centuries later were mainly Rhodians serving in the Massaliote army, along with Cretans, in a special force charged with surveying the Carthaginian movements in southern Iberia.
Popular theories should not be discredited without serious thought and research just because they are ‘popular’; those about Rhode certainly were not born without a reason. Sailing towards Provence, we learn that traders from Rhodes were visiting the coast in the 7th century BCE. Rhodian pottery from that century has been found in the area of Marseille, near Istres and Martigues, and at Évenos, near Toulon. The Rhône (Greek Rhodanós), the main river of Provence, and the ancient town of Rhodanousia (now Trinquetaille or Saint-Gilles), were named after the island of Rhodes. There is still a problem of a time gap of one century with the supposed Iberian settlement of Rhode; but at any rate the Rhodian traces in Provence precede those of the Phocaeans, the founders of Massalia. Hellenes from other cities of Ionia also traded in the western Mediterranean as far as Iberia, but very little remains from that period. It is obvious that the Phocaeans had arrived there not just to trade but also to settle. A foundation myth reported by Aristotle in the 4th century BCE as well as by Latin authors symbolizes the intermarriage between Hellenes and locals, recounting how a Phocaean named Protis (or Euxenus) married a local princess called Gyptis (or Petta), thus giving him the right to receive a piece of land where he could found a city. Contacts developed undisputedly from 600 BCE onwards between Celts, Ligures and Greeks in Massalia and other colonies such as Agde, Nice, Antibes, Monaco, Emporion and Rhode.
According to Charles Ebel writing in the 1960s, “Massalia was not an isolated Greek city, but had developed an Empire of its own along the coast of southern Gaul by the 4th century”. This idea of a Massalian Empire, nevertheless, is no longer accepted by several skeptical scholars in the light of recent archaeological evidence, which shows that Massalia’s chora (agricultural territory under its direct control) was never large enough. The same skeptics also dispute the idea of a Hellenization of southern France due to Massalia. However, its influence was felt all through France to Brittany because of the Massaliotes’ trade relations with the Celts, especially for the transport of tin from Brittany and even Cornwall. It seems that a Tin Route, indispensable for the manufacture of bronze, was established at that time from Cornwall, through the Channel, along the Seine valley, Burgundy and the Rhône-Saône valleys to Massalia. During his conquest of Gaul, Caesar reported that the Helvetii were in possession of documents in Hellenic, and all Gaulish coins used the Greek script until about 50 BCE. By that time the Massaliote coinage circulated freely in Gaul, influencing coinage as far afield as Britain. Hellenic Marseille eventually became a centre of culture which drew several Roman parents to send their children there to be educated.
A Tin Route, indispensable for the manufacture of bronze, was established from Cornwall through the Channel, along the Seine valley, Burgundy and the Rhône-Saône valleys to Massalia.
In our Massaliote Periplus revival, we set sail from Massalia, leaving Rhode and Emporion behind, and drop anchor between Barcinón and Callípolis. Legends say that Barcinón, modern Barcelona, was founded either by Heracles in the middle of the 12th century BCE,(c) or Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal’s father, in the second half of the 3rd century BCE. At the same time, the Laietani, a Thracian–Iberian people, settled in the area where there had already been a small Greek colony, Callípolis, since the 6th century, referred to by Avienus in his Ora maritima, and sometimes identified with Barcinón. However, Callípolis should have been at some distance off, between Tàrraco (Tarragona) and the Hellenic port of Salauris (Salou), in the Costa Daurada (Golden Coast) of Catalonia. Sailing on while keeping a steady southwestward course, we arrive at Zákantha or Arse, founded by Greeks from the island of Zákynthos in the 7th century BCE. It was captured and destroyed by Hannibal in 219 BCE during the Second Punic War after eight months of heroic resistance related by Livy, and was rebuilt by the Romans who transcribed it as Saguntum, hence its current name of Sagunto.
After Valentia (Valencia), the course turns to the Southeast due to a land projection along the coast of Iberia. Sailing past this peninsula formed by Montgó Massif, we visit the first port marked on the map of Tartessos, Hēmeroskopeion, located in modern Dénia, in the Valencian province of Alicante. Its name means Watchtower in Hellenic and it reflects the first use of the lofty promontory as such. According to Strabo, the town was also called Artemisium, from the cape where it was situated, together with a temple of Artemis. It was another colony of the Massaliote Greeks along with two more small settlements in the area, the names of which have not survived. The Romans called it Dianium, whence the modern name, from Diana, as Artemis was called in Latin. Apart from its strategic location, the city was equally important for some iron mines nearby. Next stop is Akra Leuké, also founded by the Massaliotes ca 325 BCE on a White Promontory or Acropolis as its name indicates. The city passed to the Carthaginians who used it as a military base and trade post. Its Punic name is not known, but the Romans called it Castrum Album, which means almost the same. Most archaeologists agree that the Roman Lucentum (Luminous city) is Akra Leuké and also the modern city of Alicante. Helice, modern Elche (Elx in Valencian), was founded around 600 BCE near Akra Leuké to the South. The Achaean settlers named it after their native city.(d) Destroyed by Hannibal, it was rebuilt by the Romans as Ilici. The celebrated Lady of Elche, a once polychrome stone bust of a woman, is the most important find. It is considered as an example of Iberian sculpture with strong Hellenic influences.
The trading contacts of southeastern Iberia with Tartessos, Hellas, Magna Graecia and Phoenicia, with the influences absorbed, gave rise to an Iberian culture called the Contestani by Pliny and Strabo. Cartagena, originally named Mastia or Massia, was in this territory. Mastia (or Massia) was also the name of an Iberian tribe allied to the Tartessian confederation. The first description of the city of Mastia with high walls appears in the Massaliote Periplus and then in Avienus’ Ora maritima. There is also a reference to Mastia in a treaty between Rome and Carthage in 348 BCE, marking the boundary between them in Iberia. Its mineral wealth, fisheries, agriculture, and harbour, one of the best in the Western Mediterranean, attracted the Punics who re-founded it in 228 BCE as Qart Hadasht (‘New City’), identically named to its metropolis. The Romans renamed it as Carthago Nova in order to distinguish it from the mother city. The importance the Punics attached to this “new city” to serve as their Iberian capital and a springboard for the conquest of the peninsula proves that Gadir could not serve this purpose, also because of their antagonism with the Phoenician Gaditanian aristocracy that would explode later in open hostility.
Entering the Punic sphere, we come to realize the way the Phoenician colonial network was created: through infiltration of already existing settlements that soon passed under their full control – without excluding the use of violence in case the locals resisted. By contrast, the Hellenes, especially the Ionians such as the Phocaeans and the Massaliotes, and contrary to the Dorians’ tactics, had a quite different approach. Referring to the foundation of Emporion, Strabo wrote:
Therefore, there were three phases of colonization: a) a separate settlement; b) peaceful coexistence as neighbours after a spirit of mutual trust had been established through cooperation; c) a commonwealth.
The Greeks and the natives “became united after some time in a single state, consisting of barbarian and Hellenic laws, as it also happened in many other cities.” (Strabo)
The Contestani’s neighbours to the Southwest were the Bastetani or Bastuli. Their main towns, Baria, Abdera, Sexi, Malaca, Carteia, and Bailo, are mostly mentioned as Phoenician colonies. Baria, the present-day fishing village of Villaricos, is said to have financed Hannibal’s campaigns from the local silver mines. Abdera was a seaport town used by the Carthaginians as an emporium.(e) Ex or Sexi is modern Almuñécar; some of its inhabitants still call themselves sexitanos. The Phoenician colony was planted there in about 800 BCE. Sailing past the Greek Mainake and the Phoenician Malaca, we arrive at the Bay of Gibraltar. Carteia was established at the most northerly point of the bay, about halfway between the modern cities of Algeciras and Gibraltar, overlooking the sea on elevated ground at the confluence of two rivers. According to Strabo, the colony was founded ca 940 BCE as the trading settlement of K’rt, meaning ‘City’ in Phoenician (compare Qart Hadasht, that is, Carthage, ‘New City’). The area had much to offer a trader; the hinterland behind Carteia was rich in wood, agricultural products, lead, iron, copper, and silver. Dyes were another much sought-after commodity, especially those from the murex shellfish, used to make the prized Tyrian purple. Due to its strategic location, the city played a significant role in the Punic Wars. In the Battle of Carteia in 206 BCE, the Punic fleet was defeated by the Romans, who captured the colony ca 190.
Democritus, the “father of modern science”, was ignored in Athens; Plato, though he never mentioned him, is said to have disliked Democritus so much that he asked from his pupils to burn all his books!
Sailing through the Straits into the Atlantic, we are surprised to hear that the town of Bailo was none other than Gadir. The report, however, cannot be verified, and the closest to the name ‘Bailo’ one can find is Baelo, near the present-day village of Bolonia, in the area of Tarifa, the southernmost point of Europe, which is rather far from Gadir. The town served as a trade link with northern Africa (Strabo: “hence the crossings to Tingis of Maurusia”), but was finally abandoned because of earthquakes.
Then we realize we are sailing in an area colonized by Heracles: not only Abdera (or Abderos) and Carteia (Carpeia, Carpaea or Carthaea), but also Bailo-Baelo or Belón seems to be linked to Heracles and, therefore, to the Mycenaeans. Carteia, says Strabo citing Timosthenes of Rhodes, was previously called Heraclea, after its founder. Some identify it with Algeciras, Paco de Lucía’s hometown, on the west side of the bay, others say on the contrary it was located on the east side, on Calpe, that is, the Rock of Gibraltar, while some connect it to Tartessos, noting that once the latter disappeared, many confused it with Carteia. Other settlements associated with the Herculean colonizing “labours” were Mellaria or Melouria (modern Tarifa) and, as we have seen, Gadir, while sometimes even Tartessos is included in the list.
As for the Pillars of Heracles, the northern one on European soil is Calpe or Alybe (Gibraltar), small in size but rising sharply to a great height and looking like an island from afar, while the southern one, Abyle (Ceuta), is rather low. Their peculiarity is that nowadays their sovereignty is exercised by foreign powers: Gibraltar, on Spanish territory, is controlled by Britain, while Ceuta, on Moroccan soil, by Spain. The Phoenician Abyla, founded there in the 7th century BCE, passed under the control of the Phocaeans who renamed it as Hepta Adelphoi (‘Seven Brothers’). As usual, the Romans transcribed the Greek toponym into Latin as Septa, hence the current name, and used Ceuta almost exclusively as a military post. The strategic importance of the Straits was obvious to everyone.
Outside the Pillars there is another settlement, presented as a Punic colony of the early 5th century BCE, possibly with a prior Phoenician presence, called Tingis (or Tingenis, today’s Tangier). Taking advantage of Carthage’s crashing defeat in Sicily in 480 BCE, the Phocaeans should have taken control of this city, as well, dominating entirely in this area of strategic importance during the Punics’ long isolationist period after their defeat, before they recovered and imposed a blockade on the Straits. Like so many other settlements, Tingis was neither Phoenician, nor Greek, but, in this particular case, Berber. According to a Graeco-Roman mythological tradition, cited by Plutarch, Tingis was the wife of the giant Antaeus, king of Libya and son of Poseidon and Gaea, who was killed by Heracles. In Berber mythology, the founder of the city was Syfax, son of Tingis and Heracles. The tomb of Antaeus with his giant skeleton was discovered in Tangiers by the Roman Quintus Sertorius in the 1st century BCE, while the “cave of Heracles”, where the hero supposedly slept before he stole the apples of the Hesperides, is located 14 kilometers far from the city to the west.
The colonizing activity apparently continued after the Trojan War, since we are informed that, despite the many reports to the contrary, there was a Hellenic (and later Roman) port beyond the Pillars of Heracles, between Gadir and the city of Tartessos, at the mouth of the Río Guadalete. It was Portus Menesthei (ὁ Μενεσθέως λιμήν) and is possibly the present-day Puerto de Santa María (note that the word Port survives in the modern name). According to Strabo, even the Gaditans offered sacrifices in the oracle of Menestheus, one of the suitors of Helen who fought in the Trojan War. Afterwards, ancient sources relate, he was expelled from Athens by Theseus’ descendants and found refuge in Iberia. Portus Menesthei, in “historical terms”, may not be that old, because the Greeks of the Homeric era – or their products at least – arrived at Iberian ports in the 8th century BCE.
Those that transported the Hellenic ware and other goods might very well have been the Phoenicians and the reason was their artistic quality that the Canaanites were unable to achieve. One such excellent ceramic, an Attic kylix, a type of wine-drinking vessel, was found in Medellin of Badajoz, in Spanish Extremadura. The presence of this beautiful cup so far from the coastline is explained by the so-called Silver Route that most probably crossed western Iberia from north to south to facilitate the transport of the mineral wealth from Galicia to Tartessian harbours.
What the Phoenician ships could not transport and, therefore, made the Greek presence absolutely necessary in Iberia, was Hellenic culture, art, ideas, architectural models, burial habits, and so on. Taking into account that the Minoans were probably not Greeks, it seems that the first period Iberia received Hellenic influences was during the time of the Mycenaeans. This, however, is half-true and therefore (at least) half a lie, given that the Mycenaeans were civilized thanks to the Minoans. Thus the Minoan and the Mycenaean influences on Iberian cultures were very similar, if not identical. At that time, of course, there was no Tartessos. The Minoans and the Mycenaeans inseminated the local cultures they found there and the Tartessian civilization germinated some time later, when there were no Greeks around anymore. It took them at least half a millennium to wake up from their lethargic “Dark Ages” and reappear in the peninsula. The rich rewards were in the meantime reaped by the Phoenicians…
What the Phoenician ships could not transport and, therefore, made the Greek presence absolutely necessary in Iberia, was Hellenic culture, art, ideas, architectural models, burial habits, and so on…
Chronicle 6. IBERIAN “EL DORADO”
This is a “neat” example of the established historians’ ‘classic’ mentality: Reserved when they write or talk about Minoans, even Hellenes, but garrulous when they lecture about Phoenicians. Indeed, why was it so difficult for the Aegean peoples to reach Iberia? They were surely not inferior to the Phoenicians in seamanship and, furthermore, Crete was far closer to Iberia compared to Phoenicia. In addition, who controlled Mediterranean trade at the time? The Phoenicians or the Mycenaeans? Why should the Egyptian trade items of this period found in Spain “almost surely be associated with Phoenician intermediaries”? The crucial question, however, this mentality does not answer is: Where did the Bronze Age Mediterranean find tin to produce bronze? Who were established as sea traders in those years to transport this precious metal to the Mediterranean? Alas, not the Phoenicians! It is the reason why the evidence of their presence in Iberia is anything but “convincing”… On the other hand, there are detailed descriptions of Minoans extracting metals from the area of Lake Superior and carrying them through the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico to be transported to the Mediterranean! One cannot exclude this, but we do not intend to take you that far. It is better to remain on Iberian soil.
Where did the Bronze Age Mediterranean find tin to produce bronze? Who were established as sea traders in those years to transport this precious metal to the Mediterranean?
Some ‘non-established’ historians link the distinctive culture of Los Millares in Almería with “The Early Minoan Colonization of Spain” (W. Sheppard Baird). Far more interesting is the following El Argar culture, which also flourished in Almería, in modern eastern Andalusia, between 1800 and 1300 BCE. The Argaric culture was characterized by the early adoption of bronze, which allowed local dominance over ‘copper age’ (chalcolithic) neighbours. Their mining and metallurgy were quite advanced, with bronze, silver and gold being mined and worked for weapons and jewelry. They developed sophisticated ceramic techniques, as well, and traded with other tribes.
The collective burial tradition, typical of European Megalithic Culture, was abandoned in favour of individual burials (and the tholos or ‘beehive’ tombs in favour of small cists). This trend seems to have come from the eastern Mediterranean, most likely from Mycenaeans (skipping Sicily and Italy, where the collective burial tradition remained for some time yet). In the next phase of this culture, beginning ca 1500 BCE, burial in pithoi (large jars) became most frequent. Again this custom (that never reached beyond the Argarians’ circle) must have come from Hellas, where it was used after circa 2000 BCE. Cultural exchanges during the Mycenaean era are very clear in the Mediterranean, with the Argarians adopting Greek funerary customs, while the Hellenes also imported the Iberian tholos for the same purpose.
Note that whoever reached Iberia could easily find the way to the tin ores of Brittany and Cornwall through the Western Iberian Bronze cultures that had some degree of interaction, not just among them, but also with other Atlantic cultures in Britain, France, etc. It is the so-called Atlantic Bronze Age complex of ca 1300–700 BC that consisted of different civilizations in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, Armorica (the part of Gaul that included Brittany), and the British Isles. The Atlantic Bronze Age was marked by economic and cultural exchange, which led to a high degree of cultural affinity manifested in the coastal communities from Galicia to Scotland, while commercial contacts extended from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean.
Next important culture was that of Tartessos, a harbour city and the surrounding region in the southern Iberian coast (southern Andalusia). It was the first organized state of the peninsula, developed culturally and politically by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. The area is referred to in the Greek mythology of the era as a reminder of the Mycenaean presence and campaigns in Iberia. Heracles went to perform two labours there: to kill Geryon and obtain his cattle; and to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides.(a) Geryon dwelt on Erytheia or Erytheis, an island of the Hesperides in the ‘far west’ of the ancient world: Hesperia was the West and more precisely Iberia; Erytheia was called one of the Hesperides, but also the fearsome giant’s daughter. “Geryon was killed by the great strength of Heracles at sea-circled Erytheis”, Hesiod says in his Theogony. Heracles set up two massive spires of stone to stabilize the area and ensure the safety of ships sailing through the Straits, called the Pillars of Heracles. He also founded Gadeira on Geryon’s island, where the Phoenicians would build later the colony of Gadir (modern Cádiz): a tumulus near Gadeira was associated with Geryon’s final resting-place. A later generation of Hellenes linked the area to Tartessos. The Fortunate Isles, also called the Isles of the Blessed, or Elysium, were thought to be somewhere outside the Pillars of Heracles, as well.(b) That may be the reason why there are legends about Heracles being buried in Spain. As regards Geryon, he is mentioned among the mythical kings of Tartessos. His grandson Norax (or Norace) conquered the south of Sardinia, founding the city of Nora, and becoming a hero of the Nuragic mythology.(c) He dictated the first laws, divided the society into seven classes, and forced the nobles to work. Later Gárgoris introduced commerce, beekeeping and new agricultural tools like the plow. This last innovation is also credited to his (grand)son, Habis (Habido, Abidis, or Abidas), who succeeded him in the kingdom of Tartessos.
Gárgoris is mentioned as a mythological king of one of the peoples of Tartessos, who lived in today’s Algarve and Low Alentejo of southern Portugal. They were the Cynetes, Cynesioi or Conii, the westernmost dwellers of Europe, according to Herodotus, who distinguished them from the Celts. Gárgoris, as the legend goes, had incestuous relations with his daughter, whose name has not survived. After she had got pregnant, he ordered that she should be locked up and the child be killed. The baby was abandoned on a hill close to a lair of wild animals, which instead breast-fed and protected him. When Gárgoris learned that his (grand)son was still alive, he ordered that he should be taken away from the cave and put to death in another way: in a stampede of cows, or devoured by dogs or hungry pigs, or thrown to the sea. Protected by Fortune, Habis managed to survive against all adversities. Raised by a hind and grown up like a savage, he became a skilful bandit, but was captured by peasants who led him to the king. Seeing his birthmarks, Gárgoris recognized he was his (grand)son. Impressed by his miraculous survival of all his ordeals, the king named him heir to the throne. Recorded by the Roman historian Trogus Pompeius, the legend was narrated in verse by Jerónimo de Arbolanche in his poem Abidas (1566). There are other versions of the myth, as well. In one of them Gárgoris is identified with Cronus eating his children, while his (grand)son is presented as persecuted for he introduced agriculture in pastoral Tartessos. A third variation, which found quite unexpectedly its way into a book about fado, covers up the incest factor, but embellishes the story with our cherished Homeric heroes (see also Voyage 3: Iberia’s Odyssey):
Gárgoris is identified with the Iberian king Gregoris mentioned by Mascarenhas Barreto in his book Fado – Lyrical Origins and Poetic Motivation. In his numerous mythological and historical digressional footnotes, he connects this monarch to Odysseus and Calypso, referring to the founding of Lisbon and Santarém:
The founding of Santarém is thought to be correlated to that of Ulissea > Ulissipo > Olissipo > Olissipona > Lissibona > Lisboa.
“Legend attributes the building of the ancient walls of Lisbon to Ulysses, who is supposed to have given the place the name of Ulissea – whence Olissipo, Lissibona and Lisboa… Santarém is believed to have been founded in the 10th century BC by Abidis, of Greek origin [son of Ulysses and Calypso], who gave it the name of Esca-Abidis (Escalabis)… (Mascarenhas Barreto)
Once more, the stories about Hellenes are ‘legends’, those on Phoenicians ‘history’. Possibly true, there were no Greek settlements west of the Pillars of Heracles, only voyages of discovery. The myth of an ancient Hellenic foundation of Olisipo by Odysseus is not true. On the other hand, there is no evidence either to support the myth of a Phoenician foundation of Lisbon “around 600” or as far back as 1200 BCE under the name of Alis Ubbo (“Safe Harbour”), even if there were some organized settlements in Olissipona with clear Mediterranean influences either at that distant time or later. Likewise, contrary to myth, except the voyages of discovery, there is no record of Phoenician colonies beyond the Algarve, namely Balsa and Tavira, close to the Portuguese-Spanish border, with substantial Phoenician settlement and influence since the 8th century BCE. Essentially, Phoenician influence in modern Portugal was through cultural and commercial exchange with Tartessos.
As regards Calypso, according to the Greek mythology, she was not a princess but a nymph on the island of Ogygia, daughter of Atlas, hence she was also called Atlantis (Homer); or an Oceanid, that is, a daughter of Oceanus (Hesiod).(d) However, both versions are linked with either the Pillars of Heracles area or the Atlantic Ocean. Atlas, the Titan who held up the celestial sphere, was identified with the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa. Scholars who have examined Homer’s work and geography, among them Strabo and Plutarch, have suggested that Ogygia and/or Scheria, the Phaeacians’ island, were located in the Atlantic, and some have identified either or both with Atlantis. Plutarch again writes specifically that “an isle Ogygian lies far out at sea, distant five days’ sail from Britain, going westwards”, and also mentions “the great continent”, which was interpreted as a reference to either America or an allusion to Plato’s Atlantis. Many traits of the Phaeacians, including their seamanship, are suggestive of either Minoan Crete or Atlantis. The description of their palace is that of a very advanced civilization. Above all, their ships were superb, quite different from the galleys of the Trojan War, and… steered by thought!(e) Hence the view that it was Homer before Plato who first spoke of Atlantis.
Back to Tartessos. This legendary land appears in Greek and Near Eastern sources circa the middle of the 1st millennium BCE. Most probably Homer was again the first one to refer in the Iliad to a gold-bearing land in the western limits of the world before the great ocean (Iberia) where wealthy people lived happily for many years. The Tartessian fortunate city, according to Herodotus, was beyond the Pillars of Heracles and had a king named Arganthonios, because of his wealth most probably.(f)
Another historian, Ephorus, described in the 4th century BCE “a very prosperous market called Tartessos, with much tin carried by river, as well as gold and copper from Celtic lands.” Around the end of the millennium, however, there are indications that the name fell out of use creating the impression that the city might have been lost due to natural or other causes. Apart from Thera, Tartessos is a strong candidate for the site of Atlantis. The two of them had probably more in common, namely Minoan influences. The Andalusians, just like the Hellenes, may have benefited from the Cretans not only economically, but culturally, as well. Archaeological discoveries there have built up a picture of a widespread culture, with the core area extending from the Guadalquivir valley to Huelva, but also covering the entire southern Iberia, from the mouth of the Tagus to Valencia. Pausanias, writing in the 2nd century CE, identified the river and gave details of the location of the city:
The eastern mouth of the river, the only one existing now, was much wider at that time. The western mouth does not exist anymore, but it is thought that it was located near Huelva. In this area we now find only a number of lakes. At that time, between these two river arms, there was a large lagoon with at least one island in it where the legendary city was probably located. The landscape is completely different now. Some findings lead to the conclusion that there must have been two natural disasters (tsunamis) that caused the islands and the dry areas to sink, one of which happened around 1500 BCE and the other in 200 CE. Therefore, none of them is linked with the demise of Tartessos. Most sites were inexplicably abandoned between the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE.
Strabo described an urbanized society with many flourishing, wealthy cities along the banks of the Tartessos (Guadalquivir) River. The Tartessians were very good in engineering, with a sophisticated system to regulate the river flow.
Their culture is divided into two periods: The first is called “geometric” and coincides with the late Bronze Age ranging from 1200 to 750 BCE – exactly corresponding to the Greek geometric art (Parallel Lives? Who knows…). The second is termed “oriental”, influenced by Phoenicians and Hellenes alike, ranging from 750 to 550 BCE, when it was superseded by the classic Iberian culture. A similar shift to the Lusitanian culture occurred in the southern Portuguese territory, mainly in the Algarve and Low Alentejo, with littoral extensions up to the Tagus mouth. Significant elements of the period were the introduction of the potter’s wheel, and other major advances in craftsmanship, e.g. architecture, and also in agriculture. Another noticeable element was the increase in specialization and stratification. A very important development was writing. With the arrival of the Hellenes, whose influence extended far beyond their colonies, this ‘orientalism’ began to transform itself into the Iberian culture, especially in the South East. The Greek influence is visible in the gradual change of the style of the monuments approaching more and more the architectural models of the Hellenic world. The Iberian script evolved from the Tartessian with noticeable Greek influences. A variant of the Hellenic alphabet (Ibero-Ionian script) was used in a few cases to write Iberian, as well.
Culture (from Cicero’s “cultura animi”) is also material, denoting the artifacts a society creates and their connection to social relations. Civilization is certainly inconceivable without division of labour and technology. Culture and civilization necessitate an economic base in order to thrive. In the case of Iberia, it was the metals that opened the way to the dawn of the Bronze Age, sped up later when some Easterners arrived there. Mining and smelting preceded the coming of Minoans, Greeks, or Phoenicians. Alluvial tin was panned in the Tartessian streams from an early date. The Río Tinto mines along the river, which flows into the Gulf of Cádiz at Huelva, are estimated at 8,000 to 10,000 years old. They have been mined for copper, silver, gold, and other minerals by Iberians, Tartessians, Phoenicians, Hellenes, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Spaniards, for such a long time that the place has turned into an environmental disaster zone.(h) The invention of coinage in the 7th century BCE intensified the search for bronze and silver. Hence trade links, formerly largely in elite goods, assumed a broader economic role. By that time, silver extraction in Huelva Province reached industrial proportions. Huelva city was certainly connected to Tartessos; it contains the largest accumulation of imported elite goods and must have been an important centre. Excavations in the heart of the city revealed a great industrial and commercial emporium lasting several centuries. Some 90,000 ceramic fragments, indigenous and imported (Phoenician and Greek), were exhumed. This pottery, dated from the 10th to the 8th centuries BCE, precedes finds from other Phoenician emporia. The existence of foreign produce and materials together with local ones permits us to imagine its old harbour as a major hub for the reception, manufacture and shipping of diverse products of various and distant origin. Finds in other parts of the city help us estimate its habitat in some 20 hectares, which constitutes a sizable extension for a site in Iberia during that period. The analysis of written sources and the products exhumed, including thousands of Hellenic ceramics, some of which are works of excellent quality by known potters and painters, tends to identify this habitat with the lost city of Tartessos.
Chronicle 4. PHOENICIA’S STROKE OF FORTUNE
However, being ‘pro-Phoenician’, he tries to minimize the importance of the Minoans in his text regarding the “Origin of the Phoenicians, Interactions in the Early Mediterranean Region”. Reversing historical periods, he opts to portray the Minoans as the Phoenicians’ ‘pupils’ and uses the usual ‘beautiful’ phrases as a cover-up:
“A critical turning point in history… an important element mentioned by many sources, and yet given consideration by virtually none, is that – in the midst of a cataclysm which destroyed almost every city in the eastern Mediterranean – Phoenicia remained untouched… accorded a special status by the invading peoples… There was a relationship or partnership of some nature between the Sea Peoples and the Phoenicians.” (Sanford Holst)
The Phoenicians may be the ‘darlings’ of most historians; but none would ever claim that their civilization was older than that of the Minoans. The latter, therefore, were the real masters, and their good pupils, as it turned out, were not the Mycenaeans but the Phoenicians, when the Cretans often voyaged to Canaan for trade. “The Phoenicians began to develop as a seafaring, manufacturing, and trading nation when the Cretans – the first masters of the Mediterranean – were overthrown by the Greeks”, R. A. Guisepi notes in “The Phoenicians”. They probably ventured out in the open sea some time before, in the mid-16th century, trying to profit from the misfortunes of the Cretans.
“The Late Minoan I period as a whole represents the zenith of Minoan civilization”, W. Sheppard Baird writes in his study on “The Bronze Age Eruption of Santorini and Late Minoan IB Destruction Event”. “Their cultural and maritime economic influence throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea would never be exceeded. This was a time of great social and political cohesion and commercial and industrial prosperity. Their only economic rival in the Mediterranean was the Egyptians. The Minoans at this time ruled the seas with the largest navy and commercial fleet ever seen in the Mediterranean. Then it all came crashing down with the incredible eruption of the Theran marine volcano”.(a) “When the Theran volcano exploded in the Aegean”, he notes writing on “The Origin of the Sea Peoples”, “it would have been difficult enough for the surviving Minoans to resurrect the Mediterranean trade routes amid the incredible devastation. The effective Minoan policing of the old trade routes from piracy that was in place before the eruption might have never again been achieved”. And he concludes describing the aftermath of the Sea Peoples’ raids: “By this time all of the great Bronze Age powers that had existed before the volcanic eruption, except the Egyptians, lay shattered, depopulated, and would never recover. In sharp contrast, the Phoenicians survived completely unscathed and invigorated. It was the beginning of the ‘Age of the Phoenicians’ in the Mediterranean. What did they do? They headed straight for the gold, silver, and tin of southern Iberia to establish trading outposts and colonies.”
Not “what did they do?” but “how did they make it?” should be the first question to ask – followed by the crucial query: “Who were the Phoenicians’ adversaries?” Sanford Holst explains:
The Phoenicians’ adversaries, therefore, were the Mycenaeans and the Hittites, including Ugarit. A war between Egypt and Hatti in the early 13th century was inconclusive and the Hittites kept all the lands they had taken. Then the great Pharaoh Ramses II died in 1213 BCE and four years later the Sea Peoples appeared on the scene waging their first unsuccessful raid against Egypt, “the breadbasket which had been supplying the Hittites with wheat via Ugarit”. The hungry Sea Peoples wanted bread and the breadbasket was Egypt, but this did not serve the Phoenicians’ interests. It was urgent for them that the Sea Peoples’ attention be turned elsewhere: to the Aegean and to Anatolia. “What led to the special treatment the Phoenicians seem to have been given by the Sea Peoples? What services could the Sea Peoples possibly have received from these maritime traders?”, Sanford Holst asks. The answer is, of course: bread – if not something more than bread. As for the ‘circuses’, well, the investing Phoenicians hoped that they would be rewarding enough; how profitable, not even the most optimistic Phoenician could ever dream of or imagine…
The hungry Sea Peoples wanted bread and the breadbasket was Egypt, but this did not serve the Phoenicians’ interests. It was urgent for them that the Sea Peoples’ attention be turned elsewhere: to the Aegean and to Anatolia…
Sanford Holst has the story unfolding:
“The Mycenaeans continued to hold the Aegean and attacked the Anatolian people from the seaward side. To deal with this, warriors and ships in the Sea Peoples confederacy poured from Anatolia and the Black Sea into the Aegean, where they ravaged the Mycenaeans. Following this widespread disruption the Mycenaean cities withered and died. When the Aegean had been thus cleared, the people of western Anatolia were able to turn their full attention to the Hittites.” (Sanford Holst)
“The Sea Peoples may well have been Troy and its confederated allies, and the literary tradition of the Trojan War may well reflect the Greek effort to counter those raids.” (Eberhard Zangger)
As we have seen, the Egyptians won the battle but lost the war. Who else did? The Mycenaeans, the Hittites, Ugarit, and also the peoples of Canaan – except the Phoenicians. Even the militaristic Assyrians can be counted among the losers being obliged to withdraw to their land for protection. In short, all the great powers of the day. As for the winners, apart from the Sea Peoples themselves, there is no doubt:
“Under the destructive force of the Sea Peoples’ attacks, all of the Phoenicians’ powerful adversaries had been destroyed. The Phoenician cities were untouched by this devastation that happened around them, which left these people in an advantageous position.” (Sanford Holst)
The resulting power vacuum was the golden opportunity for the Phoenicians to take advantage of and emerge as the true heirs of the Minoans, rising as a great maritime power. Their zenith in history (1200–800 BCE) coincides with the dark ages of their antagonists. Enjoying almost complete freedom of movement for a long time, they methodically built their trading empire; when the tide of history brought the great powers back on the scene subjugating Phoenicia from the 9th to the 6th centuries BCE (Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians), they were prepared to shift the hub of the empire from the Near East to the centre of the Mediterranean, from Canaan to Tunisia. After the Persian conquest, many Phoenicians likely migrated to several colonies, mainly Carthage. There they could realize their dream to become a real empire, achieving military supremacy, as well, something that was infeasible in the narrow strip of Phoenicia. As for the Hellenes, they gradually woke up from their dark age and, starting in 800 BCE, rushed to make up for lost time founding their own colonies not only in the Mediterranean, but also in the Black Sea, where the Phoenicians never dared to enter. Studying a map of 550 BCE, the Greek superiority is obvious. The Phoenicians faced a very serious problem: lack of manpower. But they maintained a crucial strategic advantage: the control of the Pillars of Heracles, the Strait of Gibraltar,(e) where Carthage would impose a blockade to secure its trade monopoly with metal-bearing Iberia, the lost city of Tartessos, and in the Atlantic, north and mainly south. Using gold obtained by expansion of the African coastal trade in the mid-4th century BCE, Carthage minted gold staters bearing a pattern in the reverse exergue of the coins, which some have interpreted as a map of the Mediterranean with America (or Atlantis?) shown to the west.
This was the background of Phoenicia’s sea trade enterprise that spread across the seas from 1550 to 300 BCE. The Phoenicians were famous as ‘traders in purple’, referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the murex snail, once profusely available in the eastern Mediterranean but exploited to local extinction; used, among other things, for royal clothing. In fact, the word Phoenicia derives from the Hellenic words φοῖνιξ and φοινός, meaning ‘purple’, passing to Latin and other languages as Punic. They called their country ‘Canaan’, which may also mean ‘Land of Purple’. If so, Canaan and Phoenicia would be synonyms. Hecataeus said Phoenicia was formerly called Χνᾶ (‘Khna’). The Greek term did not correspond to a cultural identity that would have been recognized by the Phoenicians themselves. It is uncertain if and to what extent they viewed themselves as a single ethnicity. It was a civilization organized in city-states similar to Hellas. They would come into conflict and one city might be dominated by another, though they could collaborate in leagues or alliances. In terms of language, life style and religion, there is little to set the Phoenicians apart from other Semitic cultures of Canaan as markedly different.
As Canaanites they were remarkable in seamanship. While trade and colonies spread, Phoenicians and Greeks split the Mediterranean into two with the former sailing along and finally dominating the southern shore, while the latter being active along the northern coasts, without excluding mutual intrusions, as the examples of Cyrenaica and Sardinia indicate. The two cultures clashed rarely, mainly in Sicily, due to its strategic position, settling into two spheres of influence. When Carthage took over, things changed dramatically. Apart from purple, the Phoenicians exported textiles, glass, and wine to Egypt, where grapevines would not grow; they obtained Nubian gold, Iberian silver, and British tin. Nevertheless, what was once thought to be direct trade is now believed it was indirect. Timothy Champion thinks it was under the control of the Celts of Britanny.(f) In any case, it seems that the recovery of the Mediterranean economy after the Bronze Age collapse was largely due to the work of Phoenician traders, who re-established long distance trade.
Despite the exergues which supposedly depict America, what we see on the other side of the Phoenicians’ ‘coin’ is a certain kind of cultural deficiency. Their art lacks unique characteristics that might distinguish it from its contemporaries. This is due to its being highly influenced by foreign cultures: primarily Egypt, Assyria, and Hellas. Their art was an amalgam of foreign models and perspectives. In addition, although they are credited for the spread of their ‘abjad’, from which all major alphabets originated, they used this script mainly for their trade business.(g) Apart from their inscriptions, they have left almost no other written sources, or they have not survived. We even ignore the name of their “Lord of the Sea”, their “Poseidon” – quite strange for a society of merchants and sailors where such a deity is quite important.(h)
Searching for clues about ‘Phoenician mythology’ e.g. in Wikipedia, we are redirected to a certain Sanchuniathon, a purported author of three lost works in the Phoenician language, supposedly surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a translation in Greek by Philo of Byblos, according to the bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius. All we know of Sanchuniathon and his work comes from Eusebius, who cites the only surviving excerpts from his writings, as summarized and quoted from his supposed translator, Philo. The hypothetical date of the alleged writings was before the Trojan War, close to the time of Moses, “when Semiramis was queen of the Assyrians”. Thus Sanchuniathon is placed in the mythic context of an antiquity from which no Hellenic or Phoenician writings have survived. Curiously enough, however, he is made to refer disparagingly to Hesiod, who lived in the 8th century BCE! Some have suggested that Eusebius’ intent was… “pious” [“eusebeia” means “piety” in Greek]: he wanted to discredit polytheism (“the end justifies the means”?); and others that it was a forgery by Philo himself. Of course, we can draw our own conclusions about the real motives behind the forgers, whoever they were. At any rate, anyone in search of clues on Phoenician mythology will certainly be quite astonished if he is redirected to a hoax – “pious” or not…
Chronicle 3. MYCENAE: FROM KNOSSOS TO TROY
AS HEIRS of the Minoans, the Mycenaeans assumed control of the “Tin Routes” – that is, the maritime trade network of metals from the Occident. Their acme lasted for about 250 years until the Bronze Age collapse. This extensive network sheds some light on the reason why Mycenaean artifacts have been found well outside the limits of the Mycenaean world: swords located as far away as Georgia in the Caucasus; an amber object inscribed with Linear B symbols in Bavaria, Germany; double axes and other objects from the 13th century BCE in Wessex and Cornwall, England, and in Ireland. There is convincing evidence that during the final phase of construction of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, around 1600 BCE, the builders were in commercial contact with “the great contemporary Mediterranean civilizations of Minoan Crete, Mycenaean Greece, Egypt, and the ancestors of the travelling-trading Phoenicians,” as said.(a) The grave of a Mediterranean teenage boy that died ca 1550 BCE and several items of Mediterranean origin have been found in the burial ground of Stonehenge.
The Mycenaean period (ca 1600–ca 1100 BCE) is the historical setting of much Hellenic literature and myth, including the Epic Cycle and Greek tragedy. Historians have traditionally blamed the collapse on an uprising or an invasion by another Hellenic ethnic group, the Dorians, though at least one of the Mycenaean centres, Pylos, was most probably destroyed by the so-called Sea Peoples.(b) There are also theories of natural disasters or large-scale drought, which could have contributed, as well. The movements of people from the Balkans and Anatolia to the Near East at that time were quite real. The internal factors theory has the Mycenaean civilization falling in the course of societal conflicts brought on by a rejection of the palatial system by the underprivileged strata of society, who were quite impoverished by the period’s finale. Another hypothesis mingles social with ethnic divisions. In this context it has to be stressed that the Iron Age made large numbers of comparatively cheap weapons accessible to all. War was no longer a privilege of the aristocracy. The iron weapons were not as good as the bronze ones, but they could still kill… (See the previous Chronicle 2).
Mycenaean settlements were not confined in southern Hellas, but also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, islands of the Aegean, the Asia Minor coast, Cyprus, Canaan and Italy. The towns were well fortified, in contrast to Minoan Crete. The best Mycenaean palaces were excavated at Mycenae , Tiryns, and Pylos. They were the heirs of the Minoan palaces but inferior to them. The heart of the palace was the megaron, the throne hall. Staircases found in Pylos indicate that the palaces had two stories. Located on the top floor were probably the private quarters of the royal family. Supreme power appears to have been held by a king, identifiable in the Homeric ἄναξ (‘divine lord’, ‘sovereign’, ‘host’). His role was military, judicial, and religious. Occurrences of the word in texts having to do with offerings suggest that the sovereigns were worshiped. Apart from that, no priestly class has yet been identified. Furthermore, it remains problematic to pick out a place of worship with certainty. It seems that many gods and religious conceptions of the Minoans were fused in the Mycenaean religion, the mother of the classical Greek religion. The Eleusinian mysteries were established during the Mycenaean period on a pre-Hellenic vegetation cult with Minoan elements. Demeter and other gods appear in Arcadian myths as animal-headed. Representations of processions with animal masks, or of ‘daemons’, remind us of the Hellenic myth of the Minotaur. Dionysos, the only Greek god who died in order to be reborn as he often appeared in the religions of the Orient, was related to the Minoan myth of the ‘Divine Child’ who was abandoned by his mother and then brought up by the powers of nature.(c) Mycenaean painting was very much influenced by Minoan art. Bull-jumping frescoes are found at Mycenae and Tiryns, as well. However, the Mycenaeans depicted the animals only in relation to man or as victims of the hunt, and thus displayed a different relation to nature compared to the Minoans.