A "dip" in time and in the history of Paros
The course of Paros over time
Paros in a long-term perspective
Paros is an island of unique natural beauty, picturesque, bathed under the Aegean light and surrounded by blue-green waters. It also has a rich history, which is proved by the countless findings that were brought to light by the archaeological hoe, offering to the visitors the opportunity to follow the historical development of Paros by visiting the archaeological sites and the museums.
Paros was inhabited since the 4th millennium BC and has known periods of big economic and artistic acme as well as periods of sacks, intense violence, decadence and obscurity.
The historical landscape of Paros becomes clearer at the Bronze Age, after the discovery of the three great civilizations, the Cycladic, the Minoan and the Mycenaean civilization. Ruins of Cycladic settlements have been found at the areas Glypha, Drios, Kampos, Koukounaries, Plastiras and Faragas.
The settlement that is located on the hill of Kastro (Castle), in Parikia, which dates back to the proto-Cycladic period, is a characteristic example. Then, colonists came from the Minoan Crete that was at its zenith at that time, in Greece. They gradually turned Paros into an important commercial and military center. With the change of the political scenery, the Mycenaeans came to the fore; therefore Paros became an important center of this civilization. The Mycenaean remains that were found at Koukounaries and on the hill of Kastro in Parikia, the capital of Paros prove the existence of this civilization.
During the geometric period, Arcadian colonists came to the island; their leader, Paros, gave the island its current name. The Arcadians merged with the Ionians who appeared later and Paros became an important sea power through the trade of the Parian marble, which was well-known for its transparency. The marble, the natural source of wealth of Paros and its general prosperity brought cultural acme, especially during the Archaic period (7th century BC). At that time, lyric poetry flourished on the island, with the famous Parian lyric poet Archilochus.
During the classical period, Paros allies with the Persians who are trying to subjugate Greece. However, their defeat at the sea fight of Salamina leads the Persians to retreat and Themistocles to Paros, where he makes the residents of the island join the Athenian Hegemony. In 338 BC, Paros had lost its old power and submitted in chronological order to the Macedonians, to the Ptolemaic dynasty, to Mithridates and to the Romans. During this period, there were great sculptors working on the island such as Skopas the Parian. Paros was full of sculpture workshops, temples and other marvelous buildings.
Roman period - Turkish Rule
Paros' development stopped during the Roman period, since it was used along with other islands of the Cyclades complex as an exile place. Christianity comes to the island during the Byzantine period, with the imposing church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (the Virgin Mary of 100 doors).
However, Paros started suffering from the continuous attacks and invasions of the pirates. The bigger destruction, though, was caused by the famous pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa who, despite the courageous resistance of the residents, killed the majority of the population and sent the rest of them as rowers to the Turkish navy and to the Janissary battalions. At this time, the Turks occupied Paros (1560 BC). During the Greek revolution Paros played an important role, while the bay of Naoussa was used as a base of operations for the Russian fleet (the Orlov brothers), during the Russo-Turkish War.
Germans also occupied Paros, forcing the Parians to leave and go to Piraeus or abroad. The island was inhabited again after 1960 and its development was mainly due to tourism and it still is, since Paros is one of the most popular destinations.
Skopas the Parian
One of the greatest architects and sculptors of the ancient times (4th century BC), Skopas the Parian, was born in Paros. His father was the sculptor Aristandros. Skopas left Paros when he was young and travelled around many places of Greece and Asia Minor, where he left many works of art.
Skopas is considered to be one of the most important artists of his kind in ancient Greece, along with Phidias, Praxiteles and Lyssipos.
One of his most important works, in 395 BC, was the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea in Arcadia, one of the most beautiful temples of Peloponnese.
He also decorated and constructed in cooperation with other artists the mausoleum of Halicarnassus. He also created the statue of Dionysus for the city of Knidos. Skopas also worked in Samothrace and he is considered to be the creator of the statue of Nike (Victory), which is now housed in the Louvre Museum and is made of Parian marble.
The copies of his works, such as the Maenad, which is housed at the museum of Munich and the statue of Meleager, the mythical hero of the Aetolians, are characterized by expressions of violent passion. This expression is also stamped on the heads of Meleager and Achilles. The lips are set, the eyes are hollow, the eyebrows are thick and the bones of the forehead are quite prominent.
In general, his works are characterized by strong expressiveness, such as the representations of Hermes that he co-created with Lyssipos.
Archilochus the Parian
The ancient lyric poet Archilochus (c.680 BC – c.630 BC) was born in Paros. His father, Telesicles was a scion of an aristocratic family.
Telesicles was the leader of the colonization expedition in Thassos and was known for his boldness and his sharp mind. Archilochus inherited these attributes from his father and the knowledge of the folk language from his mother Enipo, who belonged to the lower class (slave). Archilochus’ life was turbulent. He fought as a mercenary in Ionia, Thrace, Toroni in Macedonia and in Euboea. He was killed during a battle between the Parians and the Naxians.
He composed elegies, hymns and poems in iambic and trochaic meters. He was regarded as the inventor of the Iambic verse and its use for satire. One of his most famous quotes is "Πολλ' οίδ' αλώπηξ, εχίνος δε εν, μέγα" (translation: The fox has many tricks, and the hedgehog only one, but that is the best of all).
It is also known that Archilochus had driven a whole family to suicide. Archilochus returned to Paros after the expedition. He fell in love with the daughter of Lycambes, Neobule but since her prevented the match, he felt humiliated.
Thereafter Archilochus ridiculed the whole family so fiercely, for revenge, that they hung themselves.