Geschichtlicher Streifzug (Historical Foray)

At the beginning is the myth

The childhood of Zeus in his hiding place in the Ida Mountains. The later sattsam known lust and power of the god father. From the shores of the Levant, this kidnaps a magical princess to Crete. Through their associations with Zeus, Europe gives birth to the legendary King Minos and his two brothers.

Not infrequently, myths exaggerate the historical. The ancient historian Herodotus (5th century BC) has probably interpreted the most famous kidnapping in history as a retaliatory measure by the Greeks (“That should have been Cretan” sic!). As a direct result of the abduction of the Argolic Io by the Phoenicians to Egypt. In the background he sees the conflict between two very different spheres of life and culture, namely Europe and Asia.

Modern researchers are more likely to assume a comprehensive migration in prehistoric times. Immigration and emigration between East and West on the basis of both hostile and friendly relations. The motives of domination and migration are a recurrent theme throughout the story. The fact that the Phoenician princess is the eponym of our continent, Herodotus once had doubted as skeptical as it is today considered almost universally binding. An exact clarification will probably never exist.

Classic interface between the continents

Around 2700 BC Chr. Ancient Egyptian traditions on the Greek and small Asian coasts are wiped out by extensive migrations. Only the slightly outlying Mediterranean island is spared of that. As a result, with the remaining cultural capital, Crete is open to fruitful new stimuli, especially in exchange with the high cultures in Egypt and the Middle East (Mesopotamia). The not surprising result is the first European high culture, that of the Minoan empires.

Living peaceableness

The Minoan civilization has its origins in Crete, but it probably extends over time over the entire Aegean Mediterranean. Above all, the frescoes by Knossos convey the impression of a peaceful, light and playful early society. Pictures or statues of armed warriors are missing completely.

Even otherwise, the Minoans are very active: they invent the first European characters. They also have talented designers and builders who create, among other things, Europe’s first streets, multi-level palaces, sprawling aqueducts and sewage systems. The decline of this high culture in two or three stages is initially determined by natural disasters (volcanic eruption, seaquake, earthquake). It is completed by an increasing infiltration from the Aegean Sea and the Greek mainland (Mykener, Dorer).


Export of Gods and more

An essential part of the sky of the Olympian gods is probably rooted in Minoan civilization and its mixing with the beliefs of immigrant colonists. Of the later governing the Aegean Hellenes that metaphysical superstructure is then taken over in turn. This is evidenced by a number of documents from religious centers in mainland Greece (Eleusis and others).

In worldly matters, Crete also has a profound influence on the Mediterranean habitat. In the legal guidelines of human coexistence, for example, the Greeks Solon and Lycurgus fall back on Minoan laws (which is still appreciated by Aristotle and Plato). The Minoan Linear B script becomes the basis of the Greek alphabet. Many techniques of metalworking and shipbuilding come from Crete, as well as navigation to the sun and stars. The Minoan visual and sensory school in the field of the arts continues to exercise its influence. Ultimately, it is the vines and olive trees that spread from Crete to more northern regions.

The flip side of the coin

The predestined position of Crete (interface to Africa and Asia) turns out to be a serious disadvantage. The island is in the three millennia after the Minoan civilization to the coveted invasion area. This characterizes the character of their population sustainably. Through the assimilation of the Minoans with Mycenaean and Doric occupiers, something like a “special Cretan mentality” has developed and is being consolidated and sharpened by the stages of the coming occupations. Roman rule from the middle of the first century to the Christianization of the then world empire. The period of Byzantine control of the island (5th – early 13th century) has an intermediate intermezzo with Arab Saracens (pirates and slave traders). Here, for the first time, the future guerrilla tactics of the Cretans manifest themselves for the first time with retreat into the many mountains of the island. Despite many uprisings, this does not help against the Venetian occupation from the 13th to the middle of the 17th century. Then the Ottoman Empire rolls over the island. The freedom struggles of the Cretans against the Turks are becoming legendary and are today still part of many songs and stories. Nevertheless, it takes almost until the beginning of the 19th century, until Crete first reaches a de facto independence, then to be united with Greece in 1913.


Not Greek, but Cretan

Nevertheless, you will often meet with this statement today. By tradition, the islanders, according to the author Johannes Gaitanides, have a certain tendency to permanent rebelhood. The Cretan of today, as much as he enjoys to cheat others – what he does not understand as a lie or a deception, but as a fantasy and a cunning – is reluctant to put something in front of his nose. And certainly not if he does not know what’s going to happen to him. Then his anarchic, deep-rooted desire for freedom stirs immediately, then the historical rebel awakens against domination as much as against administration, politics and appropriation. And by the way, this is for him the best medicine against the hated everyday monotony and boredom.

However, self-created control by family and village still has its place in much of the island. Self-restraint and attitude are valued traits, and dignity where appropriate. The Cretan loves rituals and ceremonials, respects traditions. Nevertheless, he always carries a tangle of contradictions and contradictions, but they do not tear him apart: the Cretan remains round in its angularity, he is the agreement of the incompatible in one person. Also all this an assessment of Gaitanides.