We were supposed to get home on July 3, but we didn’t finally get here until yesterday because our flight was cancelled in Philadelphia. I grew up in Philadelphia, and still have family there, so this wasn’t all bad. We were able to push our flight back one more day so we could spend July Fourth with my brother, his wife and her family. They live north of the city in farm country so it was nice to get out of the concrete jungle and see some grass after the unbearable heat of Athens. They have neighbors who own a dairy farm who set off their own quite impressive firework show. It wasn’t quite the Northern Liberty drug dealers show that I saw a couple years ago from a friend’s roof, but it was good.
It seems fitting that we were stuck in Philadelphia on our way back from Athens. Read more
Yesterday, we went up to the Acropolis. Most people know that the Parthenon is on the Acropolis. The Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaia, and the Erechtheion, which stands on the site of the Old Temple of Athena and is a shrine to Athena and Erechtheus, are there too. Alongside a number of support buildings like the Pinakotheke, the Acropolis in the time these buildings were built mostly in the sixth and fifth centuries was a thriving place of ritual sacrifice and worship of the gods.
Today when you walk around the Acropolis, it’s well-nigh impossible to have any sense of the space as a sacred site. Throngs of people taking selfies of themselves with the ruins, or finding some fellow traveller to be a photographer for a moment. Some people are even taking video of the buildings. I found this appalling not only because the sign at the entrance strictly forbids videoing the site, but also because it seems preposterous. Are you videoing because you expect the building to get up and move? Who will you actually subject to this footage? Are you really so afraid of having an unmediated experience of something that you must position a camera between yourself and the world? These are my thoughts. But to be fair, it’s only May, so the crowds aren’t even that overwhelming. Read more
Aristotle begins his Metaphysics noting that human beings are marked by their desire to know, a desire that is prompted by wonder, wonder that has before and continues to lead human beings to philosophize. So it seems fitting that our first day in Athens has brought wonder, both big and small. Read more
The Greek word ἱστορία (of course I’m going to tell you about the Greek word) means inquiry or investigation or the learning that happens through inquiry. There’s a trend in higher ed about how to get students to learn by doing and the inquiry that occurs in the engagement beyond the classroom, and I’ve been struck myself by how I, someone who has dedicated her life to thinking about things Greek, still needed the motivation of a trip to Greece to read and reread Ancient Greek history, mythology and architecture. I’m trying to be a good student, preparing myself by learning and refreshing my learning in advance so that I can achieve better insight and understanding when I’m there. I hate the oh-I-should-know-that-feeling and the if-I-knew-more-about-this-I’d-probably-appreciate-it feeling that comes from not having done the research, so this time, I’m hoping that doing my homework lets me have those brilliant serendipitous moments of recognition, connection and clarity. So you could say I’ve been engaged in a historia of the history of Greece, but especially of Athens. Read more