Monday, 9 April 2018

In the footsteps of Homer (Athens 1)

Ancient Greece. What does that evoke for you?

Chariots? Trojan horses? War? Sean Bean in a tunic? All the above? 

For me, it's all that and more--a complete world to step into and understand, and now I'm on my second visit to Greece's Peloponnese to immerse myself in Homer and the Greek tragedians and to breathe in the atmosphere that inspired some of my authors (Mary Renault and Henry Treece). 

Athens is wonderful. Despite its age and disrepair, the Parthenon shines over the city as though it truly houses a radiant deity. Its stonework is blinding and, viewed from the Filoppapou Hill (the Hill of the Muses), the thousands of tourists flooding its acropolis are reduced to the size of ants. It's suddenly possible to imagine it as it must have appeared to merchants docking in the Piraeus: a symbol of incredible power and influence with the great bronze goddess glinting in the fierce Greek sun. 

Parthenon viewed from Filoppapou hill 

On the Parthenon itself, its impossible not to be awestruck at the architecture and construction of the temples, as well as ashamed of the ravages wrought by people hacking off pieces to carry them back home. I've seen and appreciated the Parthenon marbles which were removed by the British ambassador Lord Elgin and that are now in the British Museum, but when I saw again the scarring and gaps left by his work I was staggered by his hubris.