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Thread: Did Ancient Greeks ‘Go to the Beach’?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.

    Did Ancient Greeks ‘Go to the Beach’?



    Every summer, Greeks flock to the beaches of the Aegean and the Ionian seas to swim, get a tan or chill out in picturesque tavernas or modern beach bars.

    But what was the relationship of ancient Greeks to the beach? It is unlikely that affluent inland Athenians or Spartans would ride their chariot to the shore.

    Although the culture of vacationing at the beach only really got started in the late 1700s in Europe, as improved transportation made it easier to reach the sea, there is evidence that ancient Greeks enjoyed lying on the country’s sandy shores.

    This story about Diogenes the Cynic sheds some light:

    Alexander the Great was coming through Corinth to gather the Greeks for his invasion of Persia. While there he saw Diogenes on the beach.

    Diogenes had a reputation for being the happiest man in the world. Alexander came to him and offered to give Diogenes anything he desired. Diogenes asked only for Alexander to step aside, he was blocking the sun.

    As one commentator said: “If I lived in Greece in ancient times, the weather would make me seek water to cool down, particularly if it was not far away. And living on an island it would be around me all the time. I would probably sit and eat some bread, maybe on a rock while watching the waves and feeling the water against my legs.”

    It is beyond dispute however that ancient Greeks knew how to swim and did so for pleasure or work.

    Swimming was so natural to the ancient Greeks that there is no instruction on these exercises. Children learned to swim by their parents in the same way they learned to walk.

    Plato considered a man who didn’t know how to swim the same as an uneducated man. Aristotle thought that swimming in the sea is better for the health than swimming in lakes and rivers. He was also in favor of cold water over warm.

    The physical activity of swimming was necessary for warriors who had to cross rivers or swim for their lives in case of shipwreck during naval battles.

    Remarkable is Homer’s description in The Iliad of the Greek navy’s departure for the Trojan War. Thukidides informs us that during the siege of Sphacteria by the Athenians, divers managed to bring provisions to the Spartans on the island by swimming underwater towing baskets behind them.

    According to Herodotus’ descriptions of the battle of Syracuse, the Athenians sent divers to destroy stakes which the Syracusans placed underwater.

    He also attributes the large number of survivors from the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC to this fact.

    The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece by Nigel Guy Wilson says that references are found to both breaststroke and front crawl, while beginners had the help of cork lifebelts. A 5th century fresco from Paestum shows a youth jumping from what appears to be a diving tower. There is also literary evidence for occasional swimming races.

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2018...-to-the-beach/

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    Every summer, Greeks flock to the beaches of the Aegean and the Ionian seas to swim, get a tan or chill out in picturesque tavernas or modern beach bars.

    But what was the relationship of ancient Greeks to the beach? It is unlikely that affluent inland Athenians or Spartans would ride their chariot to the shore.

    Although the culture of vacationing at the beach only really got started in the late 1700s in Europe, as improved transportation made it easier to reach the sea, there is evidence that ancient Greeks enjoyed lying on the country’s sandy shores.

    This story about Diogenes the Cynic sheds some light:

    Alexander the Great was coming through Corinth to gather the Greeks for his invasion of Persia. While there he saw Diogenes on the beach.

    Diogenes had a reputation for being the happiest man in the world. Alexander came to him and offered to give Diogenes anything he desired. Diogenes asked only for Alexander to step aside, he was blocking the sun.

    As one commentator said: “If I lived in Greece in ancient times, the weather would make me seek water to cool down, particularly if it was not far away. And living on an island it would be around me all the time. I would probably sit and eat some bread, maybe on a rock while watching the waves and feeling the water against my legs.”

    It is beyond dispute however that ancient Greeks knew how to swim and did so for pleasure or work.

    Swimming was so natural to the ancient Greeks that there is no instruction on these exercises. Children learned to swim by their parents in the same way they learned to walk.

    Plato considered a man who didn’t know how to swim the same as an uneducated man. Aristotle thought that swimming in the sea is better for the health than swimming in lakes and rivers. He was also in favor of cold water over warm.

    The physical activity of swimming was necessary for warriors who had to cross rivers or swim for their lives in case of shipwreck during naval battles.

    Remarkable is Homer’s description in The Iliad of the Greek navy’s departure for the Trojan War. Thukidides informs us that during the siege of Sphacteria by the Athenians, divers managed to bring provisions to the Spartans on the island by swimming underwater towing baskets behind them.

    According to Herodotus’ descriptions of the battle of Syracuse, the Athenians sent divers to destroy stakes which the Syracusans placed underwater.

    He also attributes the large number of survivors from the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC to this fact.

    The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece by Nigel Guy Wilson says that references are found to both breaststroke and front crawl, while beginners had the help of cork lifebelts. A 5th century fresco from Paestum shows a youth jumping from what appears to be a diving tower. There is also literary evidence for occasional swimming races.

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2018...-to-the-beach/
    Very interesting. It seems that all ancient Mediterranean people were much the same in this way.

    The preferred "vacation" spot for rich and aristocratic Romans was the Bay of Naples. Many, many of them built villas there so that they could bask in the sun near the water. Tiberius wanted more privacy so he chose Capri. Wise man. :)

    You can still climb to the ruins of his palatial villa there. I only advise it if you're in good shape, however, and above all don't bring children. All mine did was whine, and consume an untold number of gelati and Italian sodas! To be fair, if I had known how long it would take in that sun, I would have left them at the hotel pool with their father. He also doesn't share my interest in looking at piles of stones if it means hours of climbing in the baking sun. :) As it was, they only made it half way and then went back, while I trudged on alone. I'm stubborn that way: I said I'd go to see it for myself, and I would, even if I risked sunstroke!



    I think he chose such an inaccessible spot, right at the top of the island, because he had become paranoid, fearing assassination every minute.

    Reconstructed: it was called Villa Jovis


    Nice little seaside shack in Sorrento:


    A contemporary representation of Stabiae:crowded, then as now with people wanting to take in the sun, the sea and all the beauty.


    This has a slideshow of a the remains of a villa underneath Positano, which was buried underneath the ash of Vesuvius when it blew.
    https://www.archaeology.org/slidesho...-roman-holiday

    You can visit the three so-called Stabian villas:
    http://www.napoliunplugged.com/Dont-...an-Villas.html

    The more civilized part of staying on Capri. :)


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Looks beautiful, that sounds like a really cool excursion.

    I would have been drinking a lot of the Italian sodas as well. I love chinotto :)

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    Looks beautiful, that sounds like a really cool excursion.

    I would have been drinking a lot of the Italian sodas as well. I love chinotto :)
    I like it too, but my kids won't go near it. They're into Aranciata and Limonata. If they're going to be here and I'm feeling kindly, I buy it from the Italian store. Now they have Aranciata Rossa and Clementina too.

    Unfortunately, we only get one brand:




    My preferred drink at the beach or for a barbecue:


    I do like a mojito too, however. :)

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