I made it to Athens, survived the 4-shows-in-5-days nonsense and managed to spend a couple hours this morning at the top of the hill in the Acropolis. It’s small enough to wander all over and shoot photos even in a couple hours. The part of Athens that’s right around the base of the hill is really picturesque, actually, and probably worth a walk back this evening for dinner.
The obvious advantages of getting there as the place opened (temperature, crowds) were in full effect here, since it allowed me to wander around the lower grounds on the South side of the hill without feeling like I was going to die of heat exhaustion or be engulfed in crowds. No amount of postponement, however, could keep me from being pulled to the top of the hill and noticing with chagrin how little I remembered from my Humanities classes 17ish years ago. There was a time when I could have told you not only when each building was built but who designed it and particulars about each building. Sadly, that’s not true anymore.
Absurdist musings and a picture of the Parthenon after the break.
Seeing the denuded pediments of the Parthenon (after having seen the “Elgin” marbles in London more than once) was a challenge, because it really makes it impossible to ignore the fact that some Brit just walked off with them one day. Whether his decision was based on pure greed or on some higher call to protect the sculpture when the Greeks were failing, you can’t not think about it. Even if the Greeks got the friezes back, would it be right to put them back up on the pediments? I mean, I want to see as much of the original as possible, but at what expense? Is it worth having the sculptures out in the elements decaying for the honesty of it, or is it better to preserve them in some indoor, artificial location? And then, if you’re going to do that, why not just tear the whole thing down and rebuild it in an airplane hangar and put up a plaster cast of what the hilltop looked like on the Acropolis? Then you could charge admission twice
I don’t friggin’ know.
I took some pictures, but probably my favorite is this one of the eastern face of the Parthenon with the moon overhanging its eaves. There’s all that construction crap within the columns as they re-do the western face and it makes you wonder when (or if) they will just say “okay, that’s it. Enough renovation.” I mean, the thing is 2500 years old and being actively eaten by acid rain every few days. Maybe there’s something to the idea of moving it all indoors and giving the land to Disney to make an Acropolis Adventure Park.Â Or maybe it’s better to let the hillside decay as a symbol of the temporary nature of even our most enduring achievements. It’s all too much to think about.