VISIT TO ATHENS 6-8/11/2006, CONFERENCE

First of all Acropolis - highest point in the city

View in twilight View at night At night from above
(Lycabettus)
We will ascent
through Propylaea
Closer (guide behind)
There were no cats
in Ancient Greece
Disappointment -
very few things left
Erechtheion temple
with caryatides
Parthenon The same
General view Relief was destroyed
by explosion in 1687
British ambassador
took remains (1801)
Restored with
original materials
View onto
amphitheater
View until the
great sea
This is place, where
Socrates was sentenced.
View to Mount
Lycabettus
There was a theater,
Turks took almost all
remaining columns
Great view to amphitheater
 

Parthenon stood for a long time since Pericles (5th century BCE) and his architects built it after victory on Persia , but during the war between Venice and Turkey (1687), the latter kept gunpowder in no better place than Parthenon. It was hit and exploded. Buildings remained, but figures and relieves mainly gone. The remnants were stolen by some lord and sold to British Museum. After an attempt to restore Crete, a law passed that only materials equal to original can be used. So, it is a long difficult job to restore from marble.
Chicken arrived to Greece some 200 years after Homer, so he mentions only geese. Home cats arrived only during Roman period. But Greeks invented philosophy, theater, democracy, math with axioms and proves, mechanical specialized calculator (Antikythera mechanism), made great progress in mechanics, physics, astronomy, art, grammar, verse, sport (also competition in art and verse). They measured Earth, Moon, calculated eclipses, sailed a lot, albeit without compass. The best of them was sentenced, because he talk about one God (inter alia), it was Socrates. Others endangered themselves by hypotheses of Earth revolving around Sun, that Sun is a hot stone, that there are atoms. All these without any special advantages in nature or geography, except Mediterranean.
They took Semitic alphabet, it further passed to Slavs and in changed characters to Romans and further. In the airport they say Greece gave 50807 words to the world.
The first Greek to describe us was Theophrastus: they (Jews) are a philosophic sect that devote to their teaching all their life. The contact was made in times of Alexander the Great.
Note: all images with "-01" in their name are by colleague Lev Y. "cdfs3032.jpg" by colleague Mark Pr.
 


Artifacts from Museums

Greek-Roman wrestling Hockey on grass Sirens. Talmudic Sages also mention them, non-kosher From Museum of Pottery. Much before J.K. Rowling.
Typical respect for deceased wife on burial place Fine and famous! The are bold enough to reveal beauty of naked body! Head of unknown philosopher Animals are not forgotten also
Roman Caesar Hadrian liked Athens,
so they built the Arch to respect him.
Alas! He hated Jerusalem,  revolt by
Bar Kokhba against him failed
Click on this image and you will find some moderately frivolous commentaries. Caveat!
   
Agora - partially reconstructed place, where direct democracy ruled. Parliament was invented much later: Iceland and Britain. And not much of religious freedom: wait for Holland, France, USA. See modern democracy in Greece coverage below.

There are a lot of stories, how paintings were perfect also. Two artists brought pictures. One - still life with grapes, another covered his masterpiece by curtain. Birds came to pick on fruit at the picture of the first. Everybody was amazed and asked the second to remove the curtain also. "I cannot do this" - was the answer "It is only on a picture". The second won. Sculptures were colored also, but the color has been lost. They also loved a lot fine talk around the table on chosen theme, while lying and eating. Passover Seder ceremony reminds such a "symposium" a lot.
Greek menu was rather limited. The main course was bread with "additions" like fish, vegetables, fruit (olives, figs). Olive oil, but no butter. Soft cheese, like cottage cheese. Meat only on special occasions. Cucumbers and pumpkin were a kind of novelty, honey instead of sugar, diluted wine - the only beverage.
They sometimes anointed themselves by olive oil instead of washing. But they knew to produce soap from the same olive oil. We all brought several pieces from there. It has nice olive color. And now I give you away a great business idea: import such soap for IDF (Israeli Defense Forces)! It has a protective masking color like military fatigues. I even gave it to my daughter in army.


Modern Democracy

Change of guard at Parliament. They are chosen by height and shape of legs! Every guy must serve 1 year, even if returned from abroad. On Sunday their uniform is all white. It is a historic garment from Greek Independence War (1821-1831). Lord Byron died for Greek Independence. Greek and Israeli guards. Who is taller?

This building was erected in 1843.
Serves as Parliament since 1846.

Square in front of Parliament at night

Danger to democracy?

Modern history of Greece is not smooth also. Greece had a revival after it freed itself from The Ottoman Empire of Turkey after the Greek War of Independence (18211831). It was originally a monarchy in 1834, but the king was forced to give Constitution and Parliament in 1846. Then there was series of periods - constitutional monarchy, absolute monarchy, republic,  military dictatorship, civil wars. Since 1970-th - Democracy rules.


Pictures of Modern Greece

One religion almost,
Eastern Orthodox Christianity
But there not
many believers
Backgammon on
streets
Ethnic dance
with knives, local "Sabre Dance"
Memories of the distant
past - Icarus monument
near hotel
Less distant past -
Pittacus street,
after one of Seven
Greek Sages
Some words can
be guessed "Dermatina"
- from "skin"
How we won this bottle
of Ouzo? Today nobody
knows anything,
we knew a bit.
Pedestrian only. People volunteer help. One well dressed
man helped to find synagogue and told that his father saved
10 Jews in Thessalonica during Holocaust.
Almost single observant Jewish women in the city today.
Transportation is good, cheap taxi, practical metro, trolleys.
They say that city much improved after Olympics 2004.
The previous was the first modern in 1896.

Once big Eastern Orthodox Church of Byzantium is now much smaller than Russian, no comparison to Roman. In 1919-1922 they had a conflict with Turkey on Izmir and lost. Young Hemingway took part. Then conflict was solved by League of Nations with exchange of populace. All Greeks left Turkey, and all Turks left Greece. This original solution brought Nobel Peace Prize to Fridtjof Nansen (he did also other things, like "Nansen passport" for refugees)
During WW2 Greece was against Axis, they defeated Fascist Italian army, which tried to occupy it, but fell to Germans. Nazis very soon captured lists of Jewish people and started Holocaust in Thessaloniki. One of SS commanders was the future UN general secretary Kurt Waldheim from Austria. When Greek people understood, what was going on, they distributed false papers and saved many Jewish people. 86% of Jews of Greece perished though. 
Greece had also a conflict with Turkey on Cyprus in 1970-th and lost. This freed the country from the military junta, though. The country remains rather poor, out of 20 million Greeks, 9 live abroad in Diaspora, biggest center in Melbourne. Out of 11 millions inside Greece, 4 live in the capital. Athens suffered a lot from too fast growth. Greece is a member of Common European Market, euro substituted drachmas.