As I’ve written before, there is intense speculation about what caused the downfall of the Minoan civili
szation. A trip to the palaces of Knossos or Malia in Crete will lead you to believe that war or an unprecedented earthquake caused the destruction of one of the earliest seats of European power. On the other hand, the people of plucky little Santorini are convinced that it was the eruption of their volcano that brought about the immense tidal waves and/or earthquakes which caused an early bath for the Minoans.
Personally, I don’t think it was any of these things that prompted the cataclysmic collapse of an entire civilisation. Forget about volcanoes, earthquakes or tsunamis – it was the cats that did it.
Anybody who has spent any time in any of the Greek islands will know that there are cats everywhere. Thousands of the things, of all varieties and colours, roaming the streets day and night. Nobody appears to own any of them, and as a result, every single one of them is always looking for food. Every restaurant you go into has been adopted by at least three cats, with the canny felines acting as a tag team to sniff out the table most likely to give them food.
Of course, they don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to getting fed. Each of the cats has passed the advanced certificate in Doe Eyed Gazes, allowing them to look every single customer directly in the eye with a pitiful glance guaranteed to make you feel like you’ve just stolen all the worldly possessions of a homeless orphan, if you refuse to give in to it.
I’ve slowly become convinced over the last two weeks that with such a heavy population, and the advanced tactics of a league of generals, the cats of the Greek islands were once a regimented force of trained military troops. Sure, they purred and meowed with the best of them when the Minoans were offering up food. But as soon as they turned their backs, the cats held mammoth rallies to pool their strategic resources, and plot the downfall of their so-called human superiors. And once the feline fighters were given the go ahead by their kitty leadership, the Minoans were powerless to resist as the cats sunk their claws into this incredibly advanced race. Suddenly the lustral basins were filled with milk, and tuna flowed through the hallowed portals of the palaces for as far as the eye could see.
Of course, with power comes corruption, and before long the leadership were saving the best mice for themselves, and chopping out lines of catnip on the hallowed altars of the temples. After a few hundred years of cat power, an uprising from within was inevitable – and when coupled with a series of natural disasters, the cats returned from whence they came. Human control was reasserted, and the Greek Islands you see today were slowly developed.
Having tasted power once, however, the cats of Crete and Santorini are slowly girding their loins for another attempt at an overthrow – a coup des cats, if you will. You can see it in their faces as they gather on every street corner, their dewy looks unwittingly dropped to be replaced by menacing stares that betray a determination to reassert the natural order. Their numbers are growing, and fuelled by a thousand dropped baklavas, they are becoming stronger. Their time is approaching once more.
Feel free to feed the kitties. Pat and stroke them, if you must. But don’t think your kind actions will mean that you won’t be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Mark my words.