A few months ago while I was hosting Andie Alexander for a week or so in Thessaloniki, Greece, I decided that among our daytrips should be a visit to Mt Olympus (a destination that is, I know, among the highlights of anyone who visits Greece—that and the Parthenon in Athens, of course). So one day we took the highway south, towards Athens, and about 2 hours drive from Thessaloniki we reached the slopes of the mountain, which myth has it was the home of the “Twelve Gods” of the ancient Greeks. Over bumpy roads and narrow passages that made for a thrilling experience, we drove up the mountain to a refuge (a youth hostel with coffee service), which was at 1000 metres height above sea level and about 2000 metres below the top of the mountain, surrounded by thick vegetation and a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Thessaloniki. Continue reading “Searching for Chimaeras”
Leslie Dorough Smith wrote a post the other day on how we all resort to telling origins stories. As she noted, it’s a common rhetorical technique used when selling products and when talking about ourselves, either as individuals or as group members of nations, religions etc. No doubt we do tell origins stories and create myths to prove our worth: “I was here first!” says the little kid when competing for the swing. Continue reading “When the Stakes are High”
My love for the ancient Greek theatre certainly derives from my upbringing and schooling in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. For many Greeks seeing our ancient literary heritage being performed in outdoor theatres, especially during summer festivals, is certainly seen as being a step closer to our past. Today, the most well-known festival in Greece is the one that takes place every summer (since 1955) in one of our ancient theatres (known also for its great acoustics) the “sacred” (as you will hear it often referenced in Greece) theatre of Epidaurus.
I find myself back in Greece to do research and so, a few days ago, I had the chance to visit a museum in Athens. What struck me as interesting—apart from the narratives that surround all such museum exhibits, that place them in a certain time and frame them in a way that justifies a nation’s origins—was that some artifacts were marked with numbers that corresponded to explanations beside their display case that made no sense. For example, I could see a horse but the explanation talked about a vase that also had the same display number. It took me a while to realize that in the various display cases some of the artifacts were placed in orange frames. Once I realized this I immediately searched for an explanation at the information desk. The lady enthusiastically informed me that these were objects from the gift store of the museum that, celebrating thirty years of its opening, were now included in the displays. Continue reading “Frames of Identity”