The village of Methoni in the bottom, left-hand corner of the Peloponnesian peninsula is dominated by a large castle that faces the sea. The grey, stone walls of crumbling 16th century edifice built by the Venetians and enlarged by Ottoman Turks are topped with fancy castellations that give it the look of wedding cake, left out in the rain.
We arrived in the mid afternoon after a drive through impressive mountains only to find it was closed, so we decided that drinks and snacks were to be the order of the day and settling down to beer and toasted sandwiches at a modern cafe with a view across the sandy beach and attractive, curving bay.
According to the guidebook, Methoni was described by Homer as “rich in vines” and one of the seven places offered to Achilles to by Agamemnon placate his anger after a dust-up with the ancient king during the Trojan wars. According to an article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achilles
“Agamemnon had taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave. Her father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, begged Agamemnon to return her to him. Agamemnon refused and Apollo sent a plague amongst the Greeks. The prophet Calchas correctly determined the source of the troubles but would not speak unless Achilles vowed to protect him. Achilles did so and Calchas declared Chryseis must be returned to her father. Agamemnon consented, but then commanded that Achilles’ battle prize Briseis be brought to replace Chryseis. Angry at the dishonor (and as he says later, because he loved Briseis)and at the urging of Thetis, Achilles refused to fight or lead his troops alongside the other Greek forces. At this same time, burning with rage over Agamemnon’s theft, Achilles prayed to his mother Thetis to convince Zeus to help the Trojans gain ground in the war, so that he may regain his honour.
Men, eh? If it’s not lust, it’s their “honour” that gets them going…
Today Methoni is a place of tourists and relaxed pleasure although it is prone to the odd earthquake or two. In 2008 a quake measuring 6.6, shook Methoni and caused minor damage in the vicinity. It was followed a couple of weeks later by one measuring 5.4. Happily, the earth did not move for me on that particular sunny afternoon however and after the sandwiches had disappeared and the beer were finished, we drove back to the villa after taking a few happy-snaps…