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Pieria (Greek: Πιερία) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is located in the southern part of Macedonia, in the Region of Central Macedonia. Its capital is the town of Katerini. Pieria is the smallest regional unit within Macedonia. The name Pieria originates from the ancient tribe Pieres and the ancient country of Pieris. In Pieria, there are many sites of archeological interest, such as Dion, Pydna and Platamonas. Pieria is also home to Mt. Pierus where Hermes launches himself from to visit Calypso (Odyssey 5.50), home to Orpheus and the Muses, as well as the Pierian Spring. Mt. Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece and throne of the ancient Greek gods, is located in the southern part of Pieria. Other ancient cities included Leibethra and Pimpleia.

Geography of Pieria

The Pieria regional unit is bordered by Larissa (Thessaly) to the south and west, Kozani to the west and Imathia to the north. The Pierian Mountains lie to the west. The Thermaic Gulf lies to the east. It also has a valley by the GR-13. Most of the population live within the Olympian Riviera. The lowest point is the Thermian Gulf and the highest point is Mount Olympus.

It combines extensive plains, high mountains and sandy beaches. The region's beauty gives it a great potential for further tourist development.

Climate of Pieria

Its climate is mainly of Mediterranean type with hot summers and cool winters. Severe winter weather is common in the central and western parts of Pieria, especially in the Pierian Mountains and on Mount Olympus.

 

History of Pieria Macedonia (Ancient Kingdom)

See also: Pieres

The region, known as Pieria or Pieris (Ancient Greek: Πιερία/Πιερίς) in Antiquity, took its name from the Pieres (Πίερες),a Thracian tribe that was expelled by the Macedonians in the 8th century BC from their original seats, and driven to the North beyond the Strymon river and Mount Pangaeus, where they formed a new settlement. The name Pieria has been connected to Homeric πῖαρ "fat", πίειραν ἄρουραν "fertile land" in a metaphorical sense.

At some time before the archaic period Pieria was incorporated in the Kingdom of Macedon (808 BC, see below) when it became the second province of the ancient kingdom, following its fate through the rule of the Antipatrid dynasty (302 BC - 277 BC) and the Antigonid dynasty (306 BC - 168 BC). It became part of the Roman Republic after the Fourth Macedonian War, and remained part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire.

It was later invaded and became a part of the Ottoman Empire. During the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Pieria took up arms along with the rest of Greece, but their struggle failed and Pieria did not join the rest of Greece until the Balkan Wars in 1913. Until 1947, Pieria was part of the Thessaloniki Prefecture (at that time the largest Greek prefecture), as a province. Pieria saw an economic boom in agriculture and business. During the Greco-Turkish War, it saw an influx of refugees from Asia Minor, now a part of Turkey, and several places were named after their former homelands including Nea Trapezounta from Trezibond (now Trabzon) and Nea Efesos from Ephesus (now Efes). The village of Elafos in the municipal unit Elafina, formerly a community in the Imathia prefecture, was united with Pieria in 1974.

On June 8, 2007, a low pressure weather system from Southern and Central Europe resulted in heavy rainfall that ravaged the prefecture and caused great damage in fruit and vegetable production. The worst hit area was Korinos.

 

The Pierian Spring of Macedonia

In Greek mythology, the Pierian Spring of Macedonia was sacred to the Muses. As the metaphorical source of knowledge of art and science, it was popularized by a couplet in Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Criticism" (1709): "A little learning is a dang'rous thing;/Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."

The Pierian spring is sometimes confused with the Castalian Spring.

 

Classical Sources of the Pierian Spring

The sacred spring was said to in Pieria, a region of ancient Macedonia, also the location of Mount Olympus, and believed to be the home and the seat of worship of Orpheus. The Muses "were said to have frolicked about the Pierian springs soon after their birth". The spring is believed to be a fountain of knowledge that inspires whoever drinks from it.

An early reference to the Pierian spring is found in the Satyricon of Petronius, from the 1st century AD, at the end of section 5


"His animum succinge bonis: sic flumine largo
plenus Pierio defundes pectore verba.”
In one English translation (by W.C. Firebaugh, available online *):

"Come! Gird up thy soul! Inspiration will then force a vent
And rush in a flood from a heart that is loved by the muse!"
Pope


Lines 215 to 232 of Pope's poem read:

"A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' eternal snows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last;
But, those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!"

 

In Greek mythology, it was believed that drinking from the Pierian Spring would bring you great knowledge and inspiration. Thus, Pope is explaining how if you only learn a little it can "intoxicate" you in such a way that makes you feel as though you know a great deal. However, when "drinking largely" it "sobers" you now that you are wise and have a greater understanding.

 

Later references

The opening stanza also appears in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, as Fire Captain Beatty chastizes Guy Montag, the protagonist, about reading books, which are forbidden in the society of the novel.

In his poem "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley," Ezra Pound refers to Pierian "roses" in a critique of the cheap aesthetic of his time, which in his opinion has replaced a true appreciation of art and knowledge:


"Conduct, on the other hand, the soul
'Which the highest cultures have nourished'
To Fleet St. where
Dr. Johnson flourished;

Beside this thoroughfare
The sale of half-hose has
Long since superseded the cultivation
Of Pierian roses."


Sir William Jones (1746–1794) also made reference to "the fam'd Pierian rill" (a brook or rivulet) in his poem about the origin of chess, "Caissa".

Henry Miller also made mention of it in his MOLOCH.

 

 

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