h3 Geographical and Historical Facts

Sterea Ellada, Central Greece, is also known as Roumeli. The name is derived from the Turkish word, Rumelia or Rumeli, meaning “The land of the Rum” (the Romans). The name, Sterea Ellada, was given after the 1821 War of Independence, because this territory constituted the only clearly continental portion of the newly liberated Greek State. Many famous battles, affecting the course of Greek history, have been fought here. The 300 heroes of Thermopylae made their stand here.

Geographic Location: north of the Peloponnese; south of Thessaly and Epirus; between the Ionian Sea to the west and the Aegean Sea to the east.
Site of the Delphi Oracle, Mount Helikon and Mount Parnassos.

The major urban centres are: Karpenisi, Lamia, Delphi, Galaxidi, Levadia, Amfissa, Nafpaktos, Agrinio, and Messolonghi, Arachova, Thebes. Modern-day Greece exists because of the strength and perseverance displayed by the Roumeliotes of Greek history.


“When people became very bad, Zeus decided to exterminate them with a
cataclysm. Titan Prometheus advised his son Defkalion to build an arc in
order to save himself. When the rain started Defkalion locked himself in the
arc with his wife Pyrra. Everyone was killed and the arc, after nine days,
landed on top of mount Parnassos.

Defkalion offered sacrifices to Zeus who was very pleased. Zeus told
Defkalion he would grant him one favour and duly, Defkalion asked for …
people. Zeus obliged and ordered the two survivors to cover their face and
start moving while taking stones from the ground and throwing them behind
them. Where the stones thrown by Defkalion landed the earth gave men and
where the stones of Pyrra landed the earth gave women. Thus, a new people
were born, with no connection with the past. Later, Defkalion and Pyrra had
their own children, Hellene, Amfiktion, Protogeneia, Melantho, Thia and
Hellene their first born became the father of the Hellenes (Greeks.).
(N.T.not *that *Pandora)


The Dorian invasion.
With the Dorian invasion between 1100 and 950 BC, which is referred to as “the return of the sons of Heracles” in mythology, ended the bronze age and the dark ages of Hellas. The invaders spoke just like the Acheans Greek, but in a different dialect. In the middle and late Helladic period they probably lived in the north and northwest, at the edge of Mycenaean civilization. The invaders were from several different tribes, but we will call this invasion the Dorian invasion as the Dorian tribes were the most important in the course of history.

The Dorian invasion was not an organized attack from one nation on the other one. Both sides had some form of organization, but mostly only in a very loose form. What made the Dorians decide to move downwards is impossible to say. This whole immigration of nations is covered in a thick fog. Archaeological nothing was found, we only know of it because we could trace it in a linguistic way.

The Hellas of the 11th and 12th century BC had gone very much downhill. The script, one of the cornerstones of civilization was lost, and all once mighty cities were destroyed. The “second coming of the Greeks” gave a new impulse to culture in Hellas: people learned the art of iron-working, cremation started to replace burial, pottery was decorated with geometrical figures, and iron started to replace bronze as the main raw material for the construction of tools and weaponry.

Relocation of the tribes.
With the coming of the Dorians the pattern for the future was set in Hellas. For the rest of the classic history the Greeks were divided into four groups, not only by the dialect which they spoke, but also by the area in which they were living. While several tribes were driven through Hellas they, and with them a part of the invading Dorian tribes, realized that Hellas was not big enough for all of them, so they moved overseas.

The “return of the sons of Heracles” completely changed Greece in a cultural and geographic manner.

Immigrating Greeks met on Cyprus the Phoenician tradesmen who attempted to control the whole Mediterranean with their trade. From them the Greek learned something invaluable: the alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet, which resembled the Hebrew alphabet of the old Scripture, was changed by the Greeks until it fitted their needs.

The Dorians, together with the north-western Greeks settled down mostly in the areas at the Corinthian gulf and in the northwest of the Peloponesse. Furthermore the Dorians moved to the south and east of the Peloponesse, in the area of Megara at the Sardonic gulf, on the island Aegina in that same gulf, on the southern islands of the Aegean sea (Crete, Rhodes, and Kos), and in the southwest corner of Asia Minor.

The central mountains of the Peloponesse, Arcadia, did not get any new inhabitants. That is why the Arcadian dialect, together with the Greek dialect of Cyprus, is the closest to the original Mycenaean dialect.

Ionic Greek was spoken in Attica and Euboea, both areas where no invasion took place. However, because of the increasing population in Hellas because of the Dorian invasion many Ionic Greeks decided to move overseas nevertheless. They settled down on the islands in the center of the Aegean sea, and on the central coasts of Asia Minor, which is known as Ionia since then. This process is known as the Ionic migration of nations, but this is not really correct as they did leave a motherland behind unlike the Dorians.

In Thessaly the original inhabitants, the Aeolians, became subjected to the invaders and many fled to northern Asia Minor (Smyrna, Cyme and Lesbos). The northern coast of Asia Minor is since then known as Aeolia. In Beotia on the other hand the invaders melted together with the original inhabitants.

Around 950 every tribe had settled down in its own territory. They co-existed besides each other, but never formed a nation… they even almost never felt as one nation. There would always be a strong contrast between the different groups, especially between the Ionians and the Dorians. The Ionians arrived in Hellas around 1600 and mixed with the original inhabitants while the Dorians arrived 500 years later and enslaved them, without learning anything from their culture. The Dorians valued their system of tribes and remained isolated as Sparta would show later on, while the Ionians valued art, science and individualism which were the cornerstones of Athens.

Doric Greek

Doric or Dorian was a dialect of ancient Greek. Its variants were spoken in the central Greece (Roumeli), southern and eastern Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, some islands in the southern Aegean Sea, some cities on the coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Epirus and Macedon. Together with Northwest Greek, it forms the “Western group” of classical Greek dialects. By Hellenistic times, under the Achaean League, the Achaean Doric Koine appeared exhibiting many peculiarities common to all Doric dialects and which delayed the spread of the Attic-based Koine to the Peloponnese until the 2nd century BC.

It is widely accepted that Doric originated in the mountains of central Greece (Roumeli), Epirus and Macedonia, northwestern Greece, the original seat of the Dorians. It was expanded to all other regions during the Dorian invasion (c. 1150 BC) and the colonizations that followed. The presence of a Doric state (Doris) in central Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth, led to the theory that Doric had originated in northwest Greece or maybe beyond in the Balkans.The dialect’s distribution towards the north extends to the Megarian colony of Byzantium and the Corinthian colonies of Potidaea, Epidamnos, Apollonia and Ambracia. Local epigraphical evidence is restricted to the decrees of the Epirote League and the Pella curse tablet (both in early 4th century BC), as well to the Doric eponym Machatas first attested in Macedonia (early 5th century BC).


Archaeological research has shown that the area of Delphi was inhabited at least from the Mycenaean period (14th – 11th c. BC). The deity worshipped here in those times was Gaia or Ge. Myth has it that she dwelt in a cavern guarded by her serpentiform son, Python, and pronounced oracles for devotees. The place was thus named Pytho. When the god Apollo arrived from Delos he slew Python, after which he abandoned the area in search of purification. He returned later, expiated and crowned with a wreath, to establish his cult and the place then renamed Delphi. Apollo took the prosonym “Pythios” and henceforth the oracle belonged to him.

The sacred place was arranged during the 8th and 7th c. BC. Towards the end of the 7th c. BC the first stone temples were built, one dedicated to Apollo and the other to the goddess Athena. Delphi belonged politically to the Phocian city of Krissa – the present village Chrisso.

In the early 6thth and 4th c. BC the sanctuary enjoyed a great heyday and was adorned with handsome edifices and numerous ex-votos dedicated to Apollo bu cities and individuals. c.BC the Amphictiony was founded, a union of citystates with common political aims. Its seat was transferred to Delphi, essentially inaugurating the history of the city. In time the Delphic Amphictiony acquired decisive responsibilities in the administration of the sanctuary.

In 582 BC it organized the Pythian Games, which were held every four years in honor of Apollo and in remembrance of his victory over Python. In 548 BC the temple of Apollo was destroyed by fire and building of a new one commenced with contributions from various greek cities. Between the 6
Several sacred wars affected the operation of the oracle, since Phocians, Locrians, Athenians and others coveted its wealth and interfered in its independence. Both the war against Krissa (600-590 BC) and that waged to relieve Delphi of the sovereignty of the Phocians were called sacred wars (First and Second).

In 356 BC the Third Sacred War was declared, which lasted 10 years and ended in the domination of the Phocians. They were vanquished later by Philip II of Macedon, who assumed the leadership of the Amphictiony. In 339-338 BC the Fouth Sacred War provided Philip with the pretext for invading southern Greece, which he finally conquered in the battle of Chaironeia.

From 191 BC the Romans were in power. In 86 BC the sanctuary was sacked by General Sulla. The Emperor Nero participated in the Pythian Games and transferred 500 statues from Delphi to Rome, to grace his capital.

In the 2nd c. AD Hadrian made gifts intended to boost the sanctuary’s finances, but efforts to regain its former glory were to no avail. The oracle that the Pythia pronounced to the Byzantine Emperor Julian the Apostate (AD 361-363) confirms the fact that Christianity had prevailed and ousted paganism: Tell ye the king: The craven hall id fallen in decay. Phoebus hath no chapel left, no prophesying bay, no prating spring. The steam is dry.

In AD 392 Emperor Theodosius banned the practice of ancient cult and the oracle was forced to close. Delphi is mentioned as an inhabited area, however, until the 6th century.