Saturday, February 16, 2008

Temple of Olympian Zeus

After sitting in the agora, as the day was coming to an end, I made up my mind to walk to the opposite side of the Acropolis to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus. I didn't have much time to get there before the site would be closed, but it was my last evening in Greece, and I wanted to squeeze in one more adventure before leaving Athens. If I had fully comprehended the scale and the grandeur of the remains, I would have left no chance of missing it. The Temple was begun at the end of the sixth century by Hippias and Hipparchos, the sons of Pisistratus, but it was not completed for more than six more centuries, in the Roman period. In one of these photos you can use the people to get a feel for the size, but, as always, the magnitude cannot be felt except by standing beside it.

I arrived at the site when the gate was half-closed, and the guards very nicely informed me that I had only 15 minutes before closure. I made my way quickly toward the remains of the temple, and walked the full perimeter, taking pictures from all angles. Then I stood underneath what towering columns still remain and let it flow over me like waves from the past. I cannot even fathom what it would have looked like in its completed form, or even half completed for that matter.

I stayed until the guards informed that it was time to leave, and then I very nicely thanked them, and just remained where I was. You can actually hear a woman in the video tell me it was time to leave. I was very grateful that they allowed me to stay longer without becoming too irritated, but I had to absorb as much as I could.

On my way out, heading back toward the Acropolis, I turned and gazed at it again for ten more minutes, thinking about my entire trip to Greece culminating in this last sight. I will certainly go back to Greece one day, but I doubt that it can ever be as inspiring and overwhelming as my first whirlwind tour, which took me through an extraordinary number of places and landscapes. It was a perfect time to make the visit too, just before entering upon graduate work in classics, and the experience has been beneficial both in broad terms of understanding the setting for my studies, but also in specific ways, like providing photos and knowledge for several presentations.

My trip to Paris was a great transition to returning home to New York. It offered something different and exciting, and some time to see new sights, in a slightly more relaxed mode. I spent several days exploring the restaurants and back streets of the city. I also managed to see the Louvre and the Musée Rodin, as well as the Sorbonne, and nearly twenty of the bookstores in the surrounding neighborhoods. I bought a copy of Herodotos at Pnin, and searched desperately for a copy of Chantraine's Homeric grammar, without any luck.

This tour of Greece took me much longer to complete than I had supposed when first starting on the project, but now I hope to return to some of the interesting notes that I've discovered in my reading, including some updates on my Latin education, and my exploration of the Sanskrit language.


Blogger Wm said...

Here in Madison we're getting smacked by yet another winter storm. We've broken our snow record for this season, and now people are betting on whether we'll pass 100in of snow.

So I appreciate these new posts which let me stare at sunny Greece and great architecture.

I have got to get to Greece.

10:59 AM  

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