My conculture is set in an area similar to the Mediterranean Sea, only it's almost double the west-east width of it, on a longitute around the same as Rome and Athens and a similar climate (let's take Köppen's "Csa") and with a pre-industrial technology level.

Now I want to develop the mythology and lexicon (I develop the conworld/conculture for my conlang) which is usually highly influenced by the climate, like the names of seasons/months, etc.

Now my big problem is that I never experienced how a Mediterranean year feels like, as I live in Northern Europe (northern Germany where Dsa and Cfb meet). And because of that I'm not sure how to proceed.

For example, I planned on having the concept that the spring is the "birth/beginning" and winter the "death/end", however I'm not sure whether the seasons are similarly perceived as in the "North", where IMO it's very clear that the winter is the "death", as hardly anything grows, whereas in the spring everyting starts to grow, AFAIK.

The main reason I think it may not be realistic to have such a concept in a Mediterranean climate is that in the summer are often droughts, which destroy the harvest, AFAIK, the winter however is quite wet and warm, which leads me to believe that winter is a "friendlier" time than the summer for agriculture. However how true is that? Do I overlook something?

Or in other words, which season would a (ancient Roman/Greek) farmer fear the most or would be the most happy about?

Side question: What are other key difference between a Mediterranean climate (Csa) and a Northern climate (which in my case would be northern Germany's meeting point of Dsa and Cfb), which could influence the mythology?

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you read Wikipedia's page on "Season" ? $\endgroup$ – StephenG Aug 28 '17 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I also studied what the rainfall and temperature is like around Greece and Italy. I know the numbers, but I can't quite get my head around how it would feel subjectively or let's say from an pre-industrial farmer's perspective. $\endgroup$ – Arhama Aug 28 '17 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ One aspect that you may need to think about is whether a hot desert (like in Northern Africa) exists near your target area or not (like in Italy). If former is the case, summer and summer heat may find a much worse reflection in mythology as well as season naming. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 28 '17 at 21:18

There is a marked difference in climate between the northern shores of the Mediterranean and the southern shores. And there is a difference between northern Italy and southern Italy or between northern Greece and southern Greece.

  • On the nortern shores of the Med (say, Italy or Greece) seasons are in principle similar to those in other parts of Europe; there is a clear distinction between spring, summer, autumn and winter. Latin, for example, has words for all four of them: ver (hence "vernal equinox"), aestas (hence "estival" / "aestival"), autumnus (hence "autumn") and hiems. The major differences are that, first, it rains much less than in Germany, and, second, summers are (much) warmer and winters are (much) milder. The sky is of course intensely blue. But winter snow is not at all rare, especially in northern parts; there are lots of broadleaf trees which turn gold or red in autumn and shed their foliage in winter etc. Agriculture is organized along the same seasons as elsewhere in Europe. Rain falls mostly in autumn; January and February are mostly dry.

    The perception of seasons in ancient Greece and Rome was pretty much similar to other parts of Europe, except that, of course, a Greek or a Roman would have considered their northern Mediterranean climate "normal" and the climate in lands north of the Alps excessively rainy and excessively cold in winter. Ovid's Epistulae ex Ponto (Letters from the Black Sea, available in Latin at Perseus), written while the poet was in exile at Tomis (modern Constanța), contain many fragments where the horribly harsh climate is described in frozen detail...

  • The southen parts of Italy, and Meditarranean islands such as Sicily or Crete have very mild winters. In the Antiquity, Sicily was a major exporter of wheat; agriculture was organized on a timetable similar to that of Italy.

  • On the southern shores of the Mediterranean there are basically two seasons, a very warm, even hot, and dry summer and a less warm and less dry winter. What little rain falls is concentrated in winter (from December to February).

Note that the climate, especially on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, was different in the Antiquity; if you aim to create a culture reminiscent of the classical world you should read the Wikipedia articles on the Climate of Ancient Rome and the Roman Climatic Optimum. Basically, Egypt and northern Africa were the most fertile regions in the empire; any break in the maritime transport of grain from north Africa was seen as a major issue. However, water management was necessary.

Egypt, of course, had the annual floodings of the Nile. (There was no Aswan High Dam...)

See also North Africa during Antiquity; even today, north African countries such as Tunisia are exporters of agricultural products.

YouTube has a series of two lectures by an American gardener, Maureen Price, discussing Mediterranean climate and Mediterranean plants: part 1, part 2.


In general Mediterranean climate is much more constant then northern and especially middle Europe.

Mediterranean sea is a closed and warm sea, retaining a lot of heat and thus mitigating both winter rigors and summer hot (at least in regions near it, which is all we call Mediterranean climate; some parts of Italy (e.g.: Lombardia and Trentino) do not have Mediterranean climate).

In ancient times it was even more so, because several man-made climate changes did not happen yet (e.g.: Lebanon was covered by forests before romans stripped it to build their triremes; north Africa (Tunisia, Libya) were savannas before overgrazing by local shepherds).

Mediterranean area is also more protected from northern (cold) winds, while more open from southern (hot, humid) winds, this means "dangerous" winds (for navigation) were sirocco and libeccio, while in north Europa the most dangerous are northern winds.


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