After the collapse of the Roman power in the west, Arcadia
became part of the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire. Arcadia remained a
beautiful, secluded area, and its inhabitants became proverbial as herdsmen
leading simple pastoral unsophisticated yet happy lives, to the point that
Arcadia may refer to some imaginary idyllic paradise, immortalized by Virgil's
Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral masterpiece, Arcadia
(1504); see also Arcadia (utopia).
After the Fourth Crusade, the area became a part of the
Principality of Achaea, but was progressively recovered by the Byzantine Greeks
of the Despotate of the Morea from the 1260s on, a process that lasted until
the mid-14th century. The region fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks in
1460. With the exception of a period of Venetian rule in 1687–1715, the region
remained under Turkish control until 1821.
The Latin phrase Et in Arcadia ego, which is usually
interpreted to mean "Even in Arcadia there am I", is an example of
memento mori, a cautionary reminder of the transitory nature of life and the
inevitability of death. The phrase is most often associated with a 1647
painting by Nicolas Poussin, also known as "The Arcadian Shepherds".
In the painting the phrase appears as an inscription on a tomb discovered by
youthful figures in classical garb.
Commander Panagiotis Kephalas raising the Maniot flag in
Tripoli (Tripolitsa), the capital of Arcadia, after the successful siege.
Arcadia was one of the centres of the Greek War of
Independence which saw victories in their battles including one in Tripoli.
After a victorious revolutionary war, Arcadia was finally incorporated into the
newly created Greek state. Arcadia saw economic growth and small emigration.
In the 20th century, Arcadia experienced extensive
population loss through emigration, mostly to the Americas. Many Arcadian
villages lost half their inhabitants, and fears arose that they would turn into
ghost towns. Arcadia now has a smaller population than Corinthia. Demographers
expected that its population would halve between 1951 and the early 21st
century. The population has fallen to 87,000 in 2011.
An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter magnitude scale
shook Megalopoli and the surrounding area in 1965. Large numbers of buildings
were destroyed, leaving people homeless. Within a couple of years, the
buildings were rebuilt anti-seismically. In 1967, construction began on the
Megalopoli Power Plant, which began operating in 1970, producing additional
electricity for southern Greece. A mining area south of the plant is the
largest mining area in the peninsula and continues to the present day with one
In July and August 2007 forest fires caused damage in Arcadia,
notably in the mountains.
In 2008, a theory proposed by classicist Christos
Mergoupis suggested that the mummified remains of Alexander the Great (not his
actual tomb), may in fact be located in Gortynia-Arkadia, in the Peloponnese of
Greece. Since 2008, this research is ongoing and currently being conducted in
Greece. The research was first mentioned on CNN International in May 2008.