Sigh…In modern times Libya makes news headlines for its wars and struggles to find a place in the world. It was not always so…
Sometimes I find myself Libya Dreaming, following a trail of old maps, histories, and feelings, till I arrive, at last, in the golden sands of Far Memory…
There is – there was – a Libya I know better than the city I have lived in for 45 years.
A pillar of ancient history, it was a jewel in the crown of the Roman Empire from 146 BC to 640 AD. It was prized even earlier by the Greeks, who founded Cyrene – the Athens of Africa – in Cyrenaica in Eastern Libya from which modern eastern Libya and Libyans still take their name.
The site of Cyrene was chosen – most wisely – on the advice of the Oracle of Delphi and the city would become one of the largest in the Mediterranean. The area is now a World Heritage site and is rich in mythology and history.
There is a strong possibility that the invading Greeks built their temple to Apollo for protection from Libyan Amazons and over artefacts of an earlier, more advanced culture.
In the beginning, though, it was the home of the Berbers. The earliest name given them – Libu – appears to be the origin of the word Libya, the name for most of the African continent in classical Egyptian, Greek and Roman times.