About Ancient Asini
Located at a Headland at the end of the Sandy Beach
The Ancient Acropolis of Asini is found on top of a hill jutting out into the sea, roughly one km before Tolo, 7 km from Nafplio. Discoveries during excavations show that the area was populated during the Bronze Age and reached as far as Myceanae during the Pre-Geometric and Geomatric Ages. Today are traces of a pre-historic settlement, parts of the imposing polygonal structure of the acropolis as well as Hellenic towers constructed in the Middle Ages. Mycenaen, Hellenistic and Roman graves have been discovered. The first residents of Asini were Dryopes. Dryopes are considered descendants of Pelasgon of most ancient residents of Greece. The Dryopes initially lived in the region between the mountains Oiti and Parnassos, a barren ground that was known as Dryopis, because the many dryon that it had. The reach of their culture is placed round 1300 bc. According to Greek mythology the Dryopes were expelled from Dryopida by Hercules who occupied their fortified city. According to mythology once again, the Dryopes relocated in the Peloponnese as suppliants to the king Eyrysthea, who, as an opponent of Hercules gave them the Argolic cityof Asini. The Dryopes founded by themselves Nemea. The Dryopes considered Dryops was their their fabulous leader and their first king in Oiti. Also attributed to the Dryopes is the construction of the Drakospiton, 23 megalithic monuments that are found only in south-eastern Evia.
During the Mycenaen Era, Asini was connected by road with Mycenae and constituted their port. Homer writes that between the two cities they had taken part in the Trojan War and sent more than 40 boats from Asini. The city was ruled by the Argeites 740 BC. (or 700), despite the heroic resistance of the residents, which finally abandoned the place. The Argeites completely destroyed the city, except for the temple of Pythaea Apollo. The residents relocated to Messinia and there they built a new city. During the Hellenic Era years the city of Asini was rebuilt with a wall around to protect it. In 1922 the excavations of Swedish Archaeological Faculty of Athens discovered relics from fortifications from 2000 BC and from the 3rd century BC. Also, on the adjoining hill, a Mycenaen Necropolis and other graves from the Geometric Era in which a lot of interesting objects were found. Ruins of graves were also found from the Hellenic and Roman Eras.
Georgios Seferis, one of the most important Greeks writers, gained the Nobel prize in Literature in 1963. He put the ancient harbour near Nafplio back on the map in his poem the King of Asini, from the collection of poems of Deck Diaries B. The poem is a tribute to lost time, the human existence and the futility of glory. The king of Asine, who was in power in the Mycenean period, Seferis says was a leader of his times, and took decisions that influenced the lives of others, an opinion that had been lost in history but is detailed in the Iliad.
THE KING OF ASINEAll morning long we looked around the citadel*
starting from the shaded side, there where the sea,
green and without luster—breast of a slain peacock—
received us like time without an opening in it.
Veins of rock dropped down from high above,
twisted vines, naked, many-branched, coming alive
at the water’s touch, while the eye following them
struggled to escape the tiresome rocking,losing strength continually.
On the sunny side a long empty beach
and the light striking diamonds on the huge walls.
No living thing, the wild doves gone
and the king of Asine, whom we’ve been trying to find for
two years now,
unknown , forgotten by all, even by Homer,
only one word in the Iliad and that uncertain,
thrown here like the gold burial mask.
You touched it, remember its sound? Hollow in the light
like a dry jar in dug earth:
the same sound that our oars make in the sea.
The king of Asine a void under the mask
everywhere with us everywhere with us, under a name:
“Αsίνην te... Αsίνην te...”
and his children statues
and his desires the fluttering of birds, and the wind
in the gaps between his thoughts, and his ships
anchored in a vanished port:
under the mask a void.
Behind the large eyes the curved lips the curls
carved in relief on the gold cover of our existence
a dark spot that you see traveling like a fish
in the dawn calm of the sea:
a void everywhere with us.
And the bird that flew away last winter
with a broken wing:
abode of life,
and the young woman who left to play
with the dogteeth of summer.