The Dorians The Dorians are best known for their invasion of mainland Greece which, along with the civil war at the end of the Mycenean, led to the Greek Dark Ages. The Dorians originated from north, northwestern Greece, Macedonia and Epirus. From these points they began to invade toward the south, into the center of mainland Greece, and then to the Peloponnesian, and the southern Aegean islands. Once their invasions of central Greece ceased, their descent to southern Greece produced waves of invasions through the Peloponnesus, into Crete, and westward to Rhodes. The Dorians themselves, were in many regards primitive compared to the Bronze Age Mycenean, and there are many hypotheses about their origins. The more mythical origins tells how the Dorians acquired their name from a small district in central Greece known as Doris. Accordingly, the Heraclidae, or three sons of Heracles, were driven from their home in Doris, by the Mycenean ruler Eurystheus. The Heraclidae took refuge with the king of Doris Aegimius. Later, the Heraclidae led a successful invasion of mainland Greece and reclaimed their heritage. The actual origins of the Dorians, unlike the myth, remain quite obscure due to a general lack of archeological evidence during the Greek Dark Ages. It is, however, known that the Dorians did have knowledge of the iron slashing sword. As mainland Greece gradually began to reclaim its urban heritage three centuries later, the Dorians primarily began settling in the south and eastern mainland of Greece. With the growth of classical Greece, they created strong centers in Laconia (with its capital Sparta), Messenia, Argolis, and the Isthmus of Corinth. Dorian settlements also continued into the southern Aegean of Melos, Thera, Rhodes, Cos, and Crete. In addition, the Dorians influence in the Aegean reached Halicarnassus and Cnidus (Turkey). By the 8th century BC, Dorian influence had spread to many parts of the Aegean, including Italy, the Crimea along the Black Sea, Corinth, and Argos. As the Dorians settled many areas of the Aegean, their way of rulership, was generally to merge with the indigenous people of their land, as seen with the invasion of Corinth, Rhodes, and Argos. In other instances however, such as in the case of Sparta and Crete, the Dorians kept power entirely to themselves, creating a ruling military class which they solely occupied. Such a political state, purposefully froze the old archaic cultures of Ancient Greece to maintain dominion over a population decimated to serfdom. Regardless, Sparta was to remain the main city of the Dorians which lasted well into the age of classical Greece. Doric language was a dialect spoken in Ancient Greece, overshadowed during the Classical Age by other dialects such as Ionic-Attic, Aeolic, and Arcado Cypriot, the latter dominating Greek language from the 5th century BC onward. Dorian artistic elements proved to be integral to the artistic traditions of ancient Greece. Among the many artistic elements used by the Greeks, was the Doric architectural element of large order and structure, which first originated within the populated cities of the southern Aegean. Other artistic contributions of the Dorians included the use of choral lyrics in Greek Tragedy.