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Posts tagged ‘Greece’

Nafplion: Greece’s Venetian City

Sometimes it’s nice to just do some plain old sight-seeing and not think about how it fits into my understanding of ‘the Greeks.’  Last Saturday, we walked around Nafplion / Nauplion (Drop the ‘o’ if you so desire, no one seems to mind. Note that upsilons often become ‘f’ in modern Greek; find this particularly strange as a pronunciation of ‘autos,’ the ancient and modern Greek word for self).  By walked, I mean climbed.  And by around, I mean up.  999 steps lead up the Palamidi Fortress that we can see from our terrace.  The steps begin about two tenths of a mile away.  Legend has it that the the fortress / castle, which
has 9 separate bastions, originally had 1000 steps that led up to it but some horseman was really excited when they defeated the enemy and charged his horse up the hill breaking the first step.  It’s not clear there actually are 999 steps — we didn’t count, we were too busy walking. Read more

Mycenae: Sites, Stories and Political Structures

One thing that is becoming clear by visiting ruins and archaeological sites in Greece is that the ancient Greeks thought a lot about how what they were going to build fit into the landscape.  I talked about that in my first Delphi post, and it was even more striking to me at Mycenae, where the citadel that holds the palace is set between Mt. Aghios Ilias and Mt. Zara.  This first picture is the view from the top of the citadel of the valley below which stretches to the Gulf of Nafplion.  When you visit, you can see why the Mycenaeans would have chosen this location: from the front, they have a view that stretches over the entire area so they could say any potential invaders from afar, and the back of the citadel is set into the crags of rock that line the lower parts of the mountains that make the citadel almost impossible to scale. Read more

Delphi, Pt. II: More on Socrates and the Gods OR Neither Revealing or Concealing, but Speaking in Signs.

Elysian Fields: Initiation to the Mysteries

Delphi, Part I: The Gods Must be Near

Legend has it that Martin Heidegger was walking in the Black Forest with friends when he came across a country shrine and crossed himself.  Knowing that Heidegger had given up his Catholicism, the friend asked what he was doing.  Heidegger responded something like, “Many have prayed here, the gods must be near.”*

We arrived in Delphi and looked over the valley that cuts through the mountains up to the water and thought, the gods must be near.   Read more

Nafplion: The Leisure to Think

Thinkers from Plato to Marx remark on the need for leisure–for leisure time won by having one’s expenses covered and necessities provided–to engage in the life of the mind.  After the busy work of investigating Athens, we have now settled into the leisurely place of Nafplion where we have plenty of time to think.  I’ve set two thinking projects for myself: one is a paper on Arendt and Aristotle that I’m giving at the American Political Science Association (APSA) at the end of the summer and the other is a piece on Aristotle’s conception of government, politeuma, which I have presented a number of times and am now ready to send it out for publication. Read more

Greek Graffiti: But hey, isn’t all writing illicit?

Yesterday we took the bus down to Nafplion on the peninsula that juts out from the northeast coast of the Peloponnese.  It’s a gorgeous town that still retains its 19th century Italianate charm, as our host in absentia, told us.  The place is rustic and again, to quote, “close to nature.”  But I spend a lot of time thinking about nature so I’m pleased to be close to it.

I’ve been writing some fairly heady posts, so I’m taking this break to share some pictures of graffiti that I took in Athens and a couple here in Nafplio.  What?  No, long diatribe about how all writing is illicit and therefore of the structure of graffiti?  That was just a teaser.  You’ll have to fill out that argument on your own. Read more

Greece for the Greeks?

Yesterday I went to the Piraeus with my husband.  He’s the best.  I’d recount our entire conversation to you, but it would take all night.  At first, I didn’t want to stay to eat down there because I wasn’t entirely impressed by the restaurants which range from KFC to frozen seafood places.  But I let myself be persuaded.

Earlier in the day, we went to the Benake Museum, which is in an old mansion near the Parliament building.  It houses archaeological finds dating back to the Neolithic Era around 7000 BCE and art through the 19th and 20th centuries.  I’ve been thinking since I arrived in Greece about how the Greeks occupy an ambiguous racial position (stay with me here, I promise this will bring me back to the Benake) Read more

On Being a Tourist at the Parthenon

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

First Day in Athens: Wonder

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