Behind me (and the Wehrmacht exactly 60 years before) is the Acropolis, its buildings the legacy of Pericles' decision to use League funds, contributed for the war against Persia, for the rebuilding of Athens which heralded the most important programme of state patronage to have been seen in Greece, only to be rivalled later in the capitals of the Hellenistic kings. Work was not completed until the end of the century, the last phase being undertaken despite the distractions of a crippling and unsuccessful war. But even these latest additions can be seen as necessary parts of the overall programme. The Acropolis was to have a new, or rather redesigned, temple to replace the incomplete one overthrown by the Persians. The Parthenon was less a cult place than a war memorial, dedicated as much to the glory of Athens and Athenians as to the city goddess Athena. Whilst it was building other temples were planned and under construction in Athens and in the Attic countryside, some not to be completed until later in the century, when also the Acropolis received its new monumental gateway (Propylaea, in the 430s) and the Erechtheion (mainly 421-406 BCE), to house its oldest cults.
In front of the Parthenon and how it appears in reconstructed form in Nashville
Germans raising the German war ensign above the Acropolis on April 27, 1941
Greece was occupied by German forces in 1941. The Athens section of the German Archaeological Institute already had a long history of sympathy for the Nazi regime. Georg Karo, though of Jewish parentage, early lent his support to the regime and enthusiastically greeted the prospects of renewed excavations at Olympia. When Karo was forced out for racial reasons, he was succeeded as first secretary by his deputy Walter Wrede, an enthusiastic Nazi. It was Wrede who warmly welcomed the conquering German army to Athens in April 1941 and gave Field Marshall von Brauchitsch and his staff a special tour of the Acropolis dressed in full Nazi uniform. Another archaeologist, Erich Boehringer, was the German cultural attaché in Greece from 1940 to 1943. He was a follower of the poet Stefan George and had been strongly influenced by George’s elitist Hellenic enthusiasm. Some of the German archaeologists urged that a less oppressive policy be followed in occupied Greece, partly out of Hellenic sentiment and partly because they argued that the Greeks represented “the only people of non-Slavic stock able to fulfil the European mission against the Slavs.”
Members of Britain's elite Special Boat Squadron (SBS) after the liberation of Greece
Under the Arch of Hadrian, a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch which had originally spanned an ancient road from the centre of Athens to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It has been proposed that the arch was built to celebrate the adventus (arrival) of Hadrian and to honour him for his many benefactions to the city, on the occasion of the dedication of the nearby temple complex in 131 or 132 CE. It is not certain who commissioned the arch, although it is probable that the citizens of Athens or another Greek group were responsible for its construction and design. There were two inscriptions on the arch, facing in opposite directions, naming both Theseus and Hadrian as founders of Athens. Whilst it is clear that the inscriptions honour Hadrian, it is uncertain whether they refer to the city as a whole or to the city in two parts: one old and one new. Whilst it was once thought that the arch marked the line of the ancient city wall, and thus the division between the old and the new regions of the city, has been shown to be false by further excavation.
At the Erechtheum on the Acropolis, comparing the view today with how it appeared before the extensive renovations and shown in Frederick Edward Gould, the 9th Earl of Cavan's With the Yacht, Camera, and Cycle in the Mediterranean published in 1895.
The Nazi propaganda picture shows soldiers of the German Wehrmacht on the Acropolis of Athens after the conquest of the city. The photo was taken in April 1941. On the right are the British liberators of Greece at the same site three years later as Sergeant R Gregory and Driver A Hardman admire the Caryatids during a tour of the Acropolis in Athens in October 1944.
In the Odyssey (viii, 80 and 81) the Goddess "Athene came to Marathon and entered the stoutly- built house of Erechtheus." This building "where first Athene brought to light The shoot of the grey olive A heavenly crown And ornament to brilliant Athens," has undergone a good deal of restoration.
|The occupying Germans in front of the Erechtheum and my Dad decades later|
Then-and-now of my first visit to the site and a later visit by my parents
Panathenaic, or Kallimarmaro, stadium then and now- the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. A stadium was built on the site of a simple racecourse by Lycurgus around 330 BCE and later rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus. The stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and serves as the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place
According to legend, here on Cape Sounion was the spot where Aegeus, king of Athens, leapt to his death off the cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea. The story goes that Aegeus, anxiously looking out from Sounion, despaired when he saw a black sail on his son Theseus's ship, returning from Crete. This led him to believe that his son had been killed in his contest with the dreaded Minotaur, a monster that was half man and half bull. The Minotaur was confined by its owner, King Minos of Crete, in a specially designed labyrinth. Every year, the Athenians were forced to send seven men and seven women to Minos as tribute. These youths were placed in the labyrinth to be devoured by the Minotaur. Theseus had volunteered to go with the third tribute and attempt to slay the beast. He had agreed with his father that if he survived the contest, he would hoist a white sail. In fact, Theseus had overcome and slain the Minotaur, but tragically had simply forgotten about the white sail.
The earliest literary reference to Sounion is in Homer's poem the Odyssey, probably composed in the 8th century BCE, recounting the mythical tribulations suffered by Odysseus in a gruelling ten year sea-voyage to return to his native island, Ithaca, in the Ionian sea, from the sack of Troy. This ordeal was supposedly inflicted upon him by Poseidon, to whom the temple at Sounion was dedicated. As the various Greek commanders sailed back from Troy, the helmsman of the ship of King Menelaus of Sparta died at his post while rounding "holy Sounion, cape of Athens". Menelaus landed at Sounion to give his companion full funeral honours. The Greek ships were then caught by a storm off Cape Malea and scattered in all directions.
The first version of the temple was built in the archaic period but it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C, in the second Greco-Persian War. Pericles, the famous Athenian leader, rebuilt the temple of Poseidon probably around 440 B.C. but only some columns of it stand till today. A 5m tall statue of Poseidon used to stand inside the temple, but today only a part of it survives and it is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens. The frieze of the temple was made of marble from Paros island and it depicted the legends of Theseus. On one column, you can see the word "Byron" on it, engraved by the famous poet Lord Byron during a visit in 1810.
The Corinth Canal under construction, during the war, and me today. Periander had envisioned the canal but, lacking the technology, settled for the marble tramway. At the time, it was also thought that Poseidon, god of the sea, opposed joining the Aegean and the Adriatic. Others dreamed of constructing the canal, including Julius Caesar, because it saved 200 miles of sailing around the Peloponnesus, but it was Nero who actually attempted it in 66 CE. Included in his workforce were 6,000 young Jewish slaves recently captured by Vespasian in Galilee, where the Jewish war had begun. His attempt was soon abandoned based on the belief that if the seas were connected, the more northerly Adriatic, mistakenly thought to be higher, would flood the more southern Aegean. Eventually work recommenced in 1881 where Nero's crew had stopped, completing the canal in 1893.
The Bema (Judgement seat) at Corinth, where Paul was claimed to have been brought before Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, (Acts xviii.14), although the idea of an obscure wandering rabbi called Paul being given an hearing from the Roman consul of all Greece, a Roman senator and brother of Seneca is hard to credit.
The temple of Apollo in Corinth. The city site is in the foreground, dominated by the remains of the sixth-century B.C. Temple of Apollo, one of the few survivors of the town's destruction by the Romans. Our only evidence that this is dedicated to Apollo is the brief reference in Pausanias's Description of Greece [2.iii.6]: As you go along another road from the market-place, which leads to Sicyon, you can see on the right of the road a temple and bronze image of Apollo, and a little farther on a well called the Well of Glauce. Into this they say she threw herself in the belief that the water would be a cure for the drugs of Medea. Above this well has been built what is called the Odeum (Music Hall), beside which is the tomb of Medea's children. Their names were Mermerus and Pheres, and they are said to have been stoned to death by the Corinthians owing to the gifts which legend says they brought to Glauce.In the distance to the south rises the citadel, Acrocorinth, linked by long walls to the city in the fourth century BCE. It is the most impressive of the acropoleis of mainland Greece:
The Acrocorinthus, a lofty mountain, growing up from the midst of Greece, when it is garrisoned, . . . renders its master supreme ... so that the younger Philip, not in joke but truly, called the citadel of the Corinthians 'the Chains of Greece.' . . . Now the place had always been an object of contention to princes and potentates; and the eagerness of Antigonus for it fell short in no respect of the maddest of passions.Plutarch tells how Antigonus obtained the fortress by fraud, and prefaces his account of the recapture by reflections concerning the glory of the deed of Aratus as having been done in behalf of all Greece against a Macedonian foe, whereas the exploits of Pelopidas and Thrasybulus to which he compares it were done against Greeks on behalf of other Greeks.
At the Temple of Zeus. Pindar speaks of "deep-soiled Nemea", but the character of the country has indeed changed with soil having been washed away by the storms of the ages. There is scarcely a human habitation to be seen. Here and there a patch of green offers scant pasture to a herd of goats. The Nemean Games took place at a spot some twelve miles to the west of this temple.
It was here that Heracles was required to bring the skin of this beast to Eurystheus; at Nemea he cut himself a club with which he killed the monster. This is the early tradition of the story; later authors (of whom Theocritus gives the fullest account in his twenty-fifth idyll)made the lion invulnerable, so that Heracles was obliged to strangle it with his hands after clubbing it, and then to flay it by using its claws to cut the invulnerable hide. At any rate, the club and lion's skin henceforth were Heracles' weapon and clothing par excellence; in art as in literature, they are invariably associated with him.
Herakles, after the Nemean lion had bitten off one of his fingers had only nine and that there exists a tomb erected for this detached finger.Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 2"Not in Nemea or ancient Argos shall I [Herakles the god] more often dwellStatius, Silvae 3. 1. 1
The Lion Gate At Mycenae. This monumental gateway to the citadel at Mycenae was built in the mid thirteenth century B.C. and was never lost to view. It, and the massive walls, thought by classical Greeks to have been built by giants, were a reminder to them of the achievements of their Age of Heroes, the period about which Homer sang.
When Solon had provoked him by saying that the affairs of Tellus were so fortunate, Croesus asked who he thought was next, fully expecting to win second prize. Solon answered, “Cleobis and Biton. They were of Argive stock, had enough to live on, and on top of this had great bodily strength. Both had won prizes in the athletic contests, and this story is told about them: there was a festival of Hera in Argos, and their mother absolutely had to be conveyed to the temple by a team of oxen. But their oxen had not come back from the fields in time, so the youths took the yoke upon their own shoulders under constraint of time. They drew the wagon, with their mother riding atop it, travelling five miles until they arrived at the temple. When they had done this and had been seen by the entire gathering, their lives came to an excellent end, and in their case the god made clear that for human beings it is a better thing to die than to live. The Argive men stood around the youths and congratulated them on their strength; the Argive women congratulated their mother for having borne such children. She was overjoyed at the feat and at the praise, so she stood before the image and prayed that the goddess might grant the best thing for man to her children Cleobis and Biton, who had given great honour to the goddess. After this prayer they sacrificed and feasted. The youths then lay down in the temple and went to sleep and never rose again; death held them there. The Argives made and dedicated at Delphi statues of them as being the best of men.The Heraeum was the scene of the well known tale of the philosopher Pythagoras and the shield of Euphorbus. Menelaus,after his return from Troy, dedicated in this temple the captured shield of Euphorbus, whom he had killed. In later years, Pythagoras entered the temple and selected this shield at once from the many votive shields hung on the walls. It proved to have the name of Euphorbus upon it. Now Pythagoras in teaching the doctrine of metempsychosis had always claimed to be a reincarnation of Euphorbus, and he announced that he had established the claim by his success in picking out the right shield.
The tumulus or burial mound at Marathon of the 192 Athenian dead, also called the "Soros," which was erected near the battlefield, in 1937 and with me in front.
The theatre at Delphi showing the foundations and restored columns and looking south-east over the lower sanctuary terrace (Marmaria), with a Temple of Athena, and to the pass leading east to Boeotia. The other approach led up from the Gulf of Corinth, at Itea, from the south west. The dramatic sanctuary site is built on a steep slope beneath the gleaming cliffs (Phaedriades) on the flanks of Mount Parnassus. At the left is the gully with the sacred spring of Castalia.Under the slope of Dirphys we fell. This mound in our honourHard by Euripus stands, raised by our countrymen here.Just was the tribute. We lost the early prime of our manhood,We who holding our ground, met the rude cloud of the war."Simonides, 89 Bergk.
The Temple Of Apollo Its ruins date from the 4th century BCE, and are of a peripteral Doric building. It was erected on the remains of an earlier temple, dated to the 6th century BC which itself was erected on the site of a 7th-century BCE construction attributed to the architects Trophonios and Agamedes. The 6th-century BCE temple was named the "Temple of Alcmonidae" in tribute to the Athenian family who funded its reconstruction following a fire, which had destroyed the original structure. The new building was a Doric hexastyle temple of 6 by 15 columns. This temple was destroyed in 375 BCE by an earthquake. The pediment sculptures are a tribute to Praxias and Androsthenes of Athens. Of a similar proportion to the second temple it retained the 6 by 15 column pattern around the stylobate. Inside was the adyton, the centre of the Delphic oracle and seat of Pythia. The temple had the statement "Know thyself", one of the Delphic maxims, carved into it (and some modern Greek writers say the rest were carved into it), and the maxims were attributed to Apollo and given through the oracle and/or the Seven Sages of Greece ("know thyself" perhaps also being attributed to other famous philosophers). The temple survived until 390 CE, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I silenced the oracle by destroying the temple and most of the statues and works of art in the name of Christianity. The site was completely destroyed by Christian fanatics in a savage attempt to remove all traces of Paganism
At the theatre, built further up the hill from the Temple of Apollo giving spectators a view of the entire sanctuary and the valley below. It was originally built in the 4th century BC but was remodelled on several occasions since. Its 35 rows can seat 5,000 spectators.
[R]egarding the Arcadians as very much their inferiors, they sent to consult the oracle about conquering the whole of Arcadia. The Pythoness thus answered them:The Temple of Athena Alea burned in 394 BCE and was magnificently rebuilt, to designs by Scopas of Paros, with reliefs of the Calydonian boar hunt in the main pediment. The city retained civic life under the Roman Empire; Tegea survived being sacked by the Goths in 395–396 and flourished under Byzantine and Frankish rule. Pausanias visited the city in the 2nd century CE. The "tombs" he saw there were shrines to the chthonic founding daemones: "There are also tombs of Tegeates, the son of Lycaon, and of Maira (or Maera), his wife." They say Maira was a daughter of Atlas, and Homer makes mention of her in the passage where Odysseus tells to Alkinous his journey to Hades, and of those whose ghosts he beheld there."
Cravest thou Arcady? Bold is thy craving. I shall not content it.When the Lacedaemonians received this reply, leaving the rest of Arcadia untouched, they marched against the Tegeans, carrying with them fetters, so confident had this oracle (which was, in truth, but of base metal) made them that they would enslave the Tegeans. The battle, however, went against them, and many fell into the enemy's hands. Then these persons, wearing the fetters which they had themselves brought, and fastened together in a string, measured the Tegean plain as they executed their labours. The fetters in which they worked were still, in my day, preserved at Tegea where they hung round the walls of the temple of Minerva Alea.
Many the men that in Arcady dwell, whose food is the acorn-
They will never allow thee. It is not I that am niggard.
I will give thee to dance in Tegea, with noisy foot-fall,
And with the measuring line mete out the glorious champaign.
Nafplio, an important seaport held under a succession of royal houses in the Middle Ages as part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade before coming under the Republic of Venice and, lastly, the Ottoman Empire. The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplio is now the capital of the regional unit of Argolis.
My father sprinting from the ancient starting blocks
The temple of Zeus was the largest temple in the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held. The sculptures in the pediments show racing and wrestling, but in mythological contexts. Here the subject is a battle between Lapiths and Centaurs, mythical tribes of northern Greece, which took place at a wedding feast. The Centaurs, half horse half man, had been invited to the wedding but drank too much wine and attempted to abduct the Lapith women. In the fight which followed, Apollo stands calmly at the centre while Peirithoös, the Lapith king and bridegroom, leads the attack on the Centaurs. Lapith women watch anxiously from the corners of the pediment. The sculptures contrast with the much more peaceful scene shown in the pediment on the other end of the temple.
Standing in front of the Apollon of Olympia, part of the group of sculptures found in the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Its original location also provides it with another name: the Apollon from the west pediment. It is one of the most important statues of the Severe style or early Classical style, dating from ca. 460 BCE. The statue is currently in the archaeological museum in Olympia. The sculptures of the west pediment depicted the battle of the Lapiths against the Centaurs, following the wedding feast of Peirithous and Hippodamia. The battle of the Lapiths - legendary inhabitants of Thessaly - against the Centaurs - wild forest inhabitants with a human upper half and the body of a horse - frequently acted as a mythological metaphor for the conflicts between the Greeks and the Barbarians. Most of the figures in this turbulent battle scene were discovered during the German excavations of 1875, led by the archaeologist Georg Treu. The juvenile Apollo stood in the centre of the pediment, directing his gaze toward the Lapiths. With his outstretched right arm, he seemed to order an end to the iniquity: the Centaurs had betrayed the Lapiths' hospitality, drunk to excess, and kidnapped their women. Nevertheless, his inclusion appears to be merely figurative; the combatants seem ignorant of his presence, with no other figure in the pediment referring, either in their motion or gesture, to the appearance of the god. The back of the sculpture, which had not been visible to viewers, is notable for being more roughly worked than the front. This difference has provided modern scholars with information on the methods used by Ancient Greek sculptors, and contributed to the debate regarding whether the later Hermes of Olympia is an original Greek sculpture, or a Roman copy.
Still the grandest complex of Doric temples outside Athens, Paestum had been a 6th century B.C. Greek colony, famed in antiquity for roses and violets.
American ambulances parking by the temples of Neptune and Ceres as U.S. infantrymen push past the centre of the American sector during the landings around Salerno Bay.On September 9, 1943, Paestum was the location of the landing beaches of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division during the Allied invasion of Italy. German forces resisted the landings from the outset, causing heavy fighting within and around the town. Combat persisted around the town for nine days before the Germans withdrew to the north. The Allied forces set up their Red Cross first aid tents in and around the temples since the Temples were "off limits" to bombing by both sides.
The first Temple of Hera, built around 600 BC by Greek colonists, is the oldest surviving temple in Paestum. Eighteenth-century archaeologists named it "The Basilica" because they mistakenly believed it to be a Roman building. A basilica in Roman times was a civil building, not a religious one. Inscriptions revealed that the goddess worshipped here was Hera. Later, an altar was unearthed in front of the temple, in the open-air site usual for a Greek altar; the faithful could attend rites and sacrifices without entering the cella.
On the highest point of the town, some way from the other temples, is the Temple of Athena. It was built around 500 BC, and was for some time incorrectly thought to have been dedicated to Ceres. The architecture is transitional, being partly in the Ionic style and partly early Doric.
On the sacred way between the Justice Gate and Golden Gate to the north which had been destroyed in 1828 the road was built through the excavations.
The so-called hypogean (underground) shrine found in 1954. Appearing as a small inaccessible underground room with a roof made of plain tiles and an altar on the steps at the front, inside was found eight bronze vases containing honey, a black-figure amphora depicting the apotheosis of Heracles, and five iron skewers on two stone blocks. The small monument located at the western end of the agora, was originally placed under a mound making it not visible. It was later bordered by a quadrangular enclosure in blocks and dated to 520-510 BCE to represent an heroon- a cenotaph in honour of the hero-founder of the city. It was assumed that it commemorated Is, the mythical founder of Sybaris, led to Paestum by sybaritic refugees. The assumption that it is an underground chapel for worship of the nymphs - a result of the discovery of a ceramic fragment with its graffiti - is now discredited.
Beside Greek houses- that on the left with its large area of tessellated pavement which has been preserved and that on that on the right which had a swimming pool forming part of the peristyle; the temple of Athena can be seen in the background.
Paestum is also renowned for its painted tombs, mainly belonging to the period of the Lucanian rule, while only one of them dates to the Greek period. It was found, on 3 June 1968, in a small necropolis some 1.5 km south of the ancient walls. The burial monument was named Tomb of the Diver after the enigmatic scene, depicted on the covering slab directly behind me, of a lonely young man diving into a stream of water. It was dated to about 470 BCE, the Golden Age of the Greek town. The tomb is painted with the true fresco technique and its importance lies in being "the only example of Greek painting with figured scenes dating from the Orientalising, Archaic, or Classical periods to survive in its entirety. Among the thousands of Greek tombs known from roughly 700–400 BCE, this is the only one to have been decorated with frescoes of human subjects." The symposium on the north wall. The remaining four walls of the tombs are occupied by symposium related scenes, an iconography far more familiar from the Greek pottery than the diving scene. All the five frescoes are visible in the local National Museum, together with the cycle of Lucanian painted tombs.
The National Archaeological Museum in Naples in 1895 and todayInside then and now; the exhibits in markedly third-class surroundings today. This marble statue of Athena Promachos ("Athena who fights in the front line") was found at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.