The power of history

“The choice of Athens as capital [of newly independent Greece], a town dominated by the imposing ruins of the Parthenon and with its associations with the glories of the Periclean age but in the early 1830s little more than a dusty village, symbolised the cultural orientation of the new state towards the classical past.”

— Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, pg. 49

In 1834, Athens and Sparta were roughly the same size. Today, Athens is the center of a metropolis of three million people, while Sparta is a provincial town of 16,000.

Athens should be a larger and more important city today than Sparta: It is more centrally located, and is connected to an excellent port.

But Athens is a metropolis not because of its location or its port, but because a group of 19th-century Greeks and Western Philhellenes believed passionately that the Athenians of 2300 years before had been right, and the Spartans wrong.

The power of history.

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