Dorian Invasion

From somewhere in this northern region, there came about the year 1100 B.C. another invasion of Greece not unlike that of the Achaeans. The Greeks themselves spoke of this as the "Dorian Invasion," and that the Greeks of Doris entered Peloponnesus and conquered several of the cities there. Greek legend also calls this invasion the return of the grandchildren of Hercules, and says that the hero's race having been exiled by their jealous relatives now returned in the third generation and reconquered their rightful rank. Viewed in this light the struggle almost seems like a returning wave in which the ancient Aegean--for Hercules, remember, was of the older stock of heroes--reconquered their Achaean conquerors.

Our scientists, however, incline to think that both of these explanations were put forward by Greek vanity; and that the "Dorian Invasion" was really a second migration, like that of the Achaeans, of non-Grecian folk from the heart of Europe. They were a race who had learned the use of iron, which had been scarcely, if at all, known to the Greeks before. And the superior armor and weapons of the new-comers enabled them to establish themselves through most of the Peloponnesus. Probably they were of ancient kin with the Achaeans, and so amalgamated with them readily enough, this kinship resulting in their being thought of as the descendants of the Greek Hercules, now returning to their own. At any rate, there was here a further infusion, though probably a small one, of Celtic or Gothic blood among the Greeks, and this Doric invasion caused wide changes in the location of the little Greek tribes or nations, changes which we can plainly trace.

So the Bronze Age ends and the Iron Age begins. And the Greeks fight with greater vigor and success. But their culture sinks even lower than the Achaeans had dragged it down. In Crete we saw how the splendid old palace of Knossus had been devastated in 1500 B.C. It was rebuilt and lived in once more; but now about 1000 B.C. there came upon it another destruction, and its downfall this time was final and complete.

A Dorian state was established at Sparta, which became in its turn the chief city of Greece. Another Dorian state arose at Messene; and a third at Argos. The Achaeans, who doubtless by now were little different from the pure Aegean Greeks, were partly driven into the mountainous regions north of Sparta and Messene, along the southern coast of the Gulf of Corinth, a land which thereafter was called Achaia. Many of the earlier Greeks were crowded over into Attica, where Athens became their chief city. And, most marked result of all, many Greeks were driven out from the mainland of Greece altogether.

Thus, coincident with the Dorian invasion, began the "colonizing age" of the Greeks. The first swarm of them spread naturally into the islands and across to the Asiatic shores of the Aegean Sea, that land of Troy which they had themselves depopulated less than a century before. Probably there were two hundred years during which this migration was gradually accomplished. Slowly the Peloponnesus became the established centre of Dorian power, and a band of Dorian colonies extended from Southern Greece to Asia and included Crete. Central Greece became what was called Ionian, or Athenian; and colonies of Ionians settled the islands and the Asiatic coast north of the Dorians. Yet north of these were Asiatic colonies of Achaeans, or, as these came to be called in Asia, AEolians. For a time at least these colonial cities were more civilized and cultured than those of European Greece, though in a military sense they were less powerful.

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Read about Dorian Invasion in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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