Every Monday during the summer months we take our guests on a historical walk of Poros-town, starting at Odyssey. I love walking and like all Greeks I love telling stories about our history and our myths (Greeks are born storytellers). One story that I have told many times during these walks, and that I will share with you on this blog, is that of Theseus; half human, half God and one of Greece’s biggest heroes. Theseus was the son of Poseidon, but also had a second father! The fish recipe to accompany this third story dedicated to Poseidon, is Sardine Balls; a recipe that shows a very original way to use this tasty fish in the kitchen!
Every historical walk is different. Who is coming with us and the questions of our guests determine the stories I tell. We usually stop in a Greek church where we talk about the Greek Orthodox religion, our traditional architecture and whatever else comes along. We often go to the clock tower where we enjoy an amazing view over the town and the sea. From there I often point to Troizina, the village at the foot of the (Aderes) mountains opposite Poros, on the Peloponnese. It’s an ancient village from the Mycenean times, which is the birthplace of Theseus.
Photo: Toni Brown
Myth of Theseus
Hearing the myth of Theseus you can understand the close relationship and history between Poros and Athens. The story of his birth is one of the oldest, most beautiful, complicated and rich myths that we have inherited from out ancient Greek past.
As I mentioned before, on Poros you find the remains of Poseidon’s sanctuary on the North side of the bigger island, Kalavria. On the smaller island of Sferia, where the church of Saint George is now, there was in ancient times a temple dedicated to goddess Athena. At this temple the virgins of Troizina dedicated their virginity belts to Athena before their wedding.
Advice from the oracle
Aegeus (The great King of Athens) was married twice but could have no children. He especially wanted a son who could take over the governing of The Kingdom of Athens one day. It was so important to him that he travelled to Delphi, where he asked the oracle Pythia what he should do to become a father. Pythia went into a trance and gave him advice that as usual made no sense; “Do not open the wineskin, oh you the best of Aegeus people, before you come home to Athens” (or something like that). Aegeus didn’t understand any of this, and started his journey home.
Theseus (2nd person from the right). Special thanx to Giorgos Karagiannis for this picture.
However, on his way to Athens Aegeus did make one stop: at Troizina. There he visited the King of Troezen who at the time was Pitheus, a man famous for his wisdom. The King of Athens did not want to miss the chance to ask such a wise man about his thoughts of what the oracle meant with her strange pronouncement. Pitheus understood it perfectly, but chose to use this knowledge to his benefit. He got his guest drunk and then introduced him to his beautiful daughter Aithra, who Aegeus slept with.
At the same time Poseidon (The God of the seas) had fallen in love with beautiful Aithra. He asked goddess Athena to lure her to Poros from Troizina so he could meet her. Athena helped Poseidon (Probably to make amends for him losing the patronage of Athens), by appearing in Aithra’s dreams, and asked her to come to her temple on Poros to make sacrifices and dedicate her virginity belt to her. You can imagine the rest. Poseidon was waiting for Aithra and the mighty God of the sea dazzled her. Nine months later, she gave birth to a beautiful child: Theseus.
When Aegeus left Troizina for Athens, he hid his sword and a pair of sandals (like the ones our guests buy in Plaka) under a great rock. He told Aithra: If you give birth to a son in 9 months and he can lift this rock when he grows up, send him to Athens with this sword and sandals so I will recognize him as my son and the future King of Athens. When the time came, Aithra took her son to the rock and gave him the message from Aegeus. Theseus easily lifted the rock and started his famous and heroic journey that will follow in another blog!
For the recipe of the sardine balls I recommend this wonderful white wine from the Skouras Winery, made of indigenous Greek varieties; Moscofilero and Alepou.
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