Sunday, May 30, 2010

Greek Frogs' Moment in History

Every once in a while, an obsure little newspaper article takes me down remarkable paths. That happened last Thursday.

The headline read: “Flood of frogs shuts down a major Greek highway.” The Associated Press item reported that: “ … a horde of frogs forced the closure of a key northern highway for two hours. According to the [Thessaloniki, Greece] police chief, “millions” of the amphibians covered the pavement Wednesday, May 26. “There was a carpet of frogs.” Authorities closed the highway after three cars skidded off the road trying to dodge the frogs. No human injuries were reported. The chief theorized that the amphibians probably left a nearby lake to look for food.

Thessaloniki has been through a lot. People have lived in or around the city since at least 600 BCE. Orginally called Therma, it became Thessaloniki circa 315 BCE as an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon. *** About 150 years later, the Romans took over and it became an important trade hub and capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. *** Power shifted again and, while continuing its growth through the twelfth century, the city somehow fell under the control of the Byzantine Greeks. *** In 1204, the Fourth Crusade made Tessaloniki part of first one empire, then two others until in 1246, it was reclaimed by the Byzantines.*** In 1423, the city was handed over to the Republic of Venice which ruled it until 1430 when an Ottoman Sultan captured Thessaloniki and killed or enslaved one fifth of its inhabitants. Under the Ottomans, the city’s Muslim and Jewish populations grew (in part as a refuge for Jews expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella). *** It remained part of the Ottoman Empire, in various permutations, until it fell to the Greek army in 1912, during the First Balkan War. *** During World War I, Thessaloniki was a key Allied stronghold but devasted by a 1917 fire (inadvertently started by French soldiers). *** During World War II, it fell to Nazi forces from 1941 – 1944, during which most of its Jews were murdered in German concentration camps. *** Now part of Greece, Thessaloniki was rebuilt after the war, surviving both a powerful 1978 earthquake and the 2004 Summer Olympics.

So, to review: Greeks, Romans, Greeks, various small kingdoms, Venetians, Turks, Greeks, Nazis, Greeks -- and now frogs.

Did you want to know all this? I didn’t think I did but one thing (via Wikipedia) led to another and there it is. Now part of my understanding of my world.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it funny how one thing does lead to another and before you know it, you're completely on a different track. That's when learning is fun. I must admit the first thing I thought of was an old movie with Sam Elliott called "Frogs." Have a great weekend.

    Thoughts in Progress