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Greece Day 2: You Odyssey What We’ve Been Up To

By Meghana Veldhuis

· Greece 2023

Due to technical difficulties, pictures will be added later.

Day 2: March 19th, 2023

Hello everybody and welcome back to the series where I’m running out of Greece pun inspiration and might need to start making my own, soon.

Today, after eating breakfast at the hotel—included breakfast is always such a wonderful thing, especially when it involves yogurt—and then left for a 9:30 am tour of the acropolis. Our guide was a lovely woman named Katerina who first walked us to the Arch of Hadrian, so named after the Roman emperor Hadrian who gave a lot of money to Athens to help build a new part of the city. Hadrian walked through the arch and it was a big honor, except one side of the arch has inscribed that Athens is the city of Theseus and the other that Athens is the city of Hadrian and not Theseus, because the ancient Athenians were witty that way.

Then we made our way to the acropolis, which means the highest point of the city. The acropolis was originally created tactically so Athens could be defended in battle, but then housed temples (and then churches and mosques after Greece got taken over by various empires).

On the way up to the acropolis, we learned lots of vocabulary:

Theater: From the ancient Greek verb “theasthai,” meaning “to behold/see oneself,” because, when you’re acting, you’re really looking at what it means to be a person.

Thespian: From Thespis, who was the first Greek to ever be act as a character when he was re-enacting scenes from songs about the god Dionysus.

We also learned many stories:

Snakes are considered sacred because they can go down to the underworld and receive all of humanity’s accumulated knowledge (via all the dead).

Women weren’t allowed to vote because, back when King Erectheus was decing what to name Athens, he invited Poseidon and Athena to a party. This was a mistake as each god started promising him things to name the city after him. Poseidon showed off by making a fountain and Athena an olive tree, and King Erectheus let the people pick. One version of this story has all the women vote for Athena and men for Poseidon; there were more women than men, so Athena won (hence Athens). Poseidon got annoyed and flooded all sorts of land and people died, so the men decided not to let the women vote for anything anymore.

And some fun facts:

The creation of the Parthenon was democratic as it was voted to be created by those who were allowed to vote in Athens at the time.

The Parthenon’s floor and columns are slightly curved so that they look straight when you’re looking up at them at an angle.

The total list of things we saw:

-Theater of Dionysus (the god of wine and, via Thespis, theater)

-Odeon of Herodes Atticus (a very rich man who built a very nice theater)

-Sanctuary of Asklepios (the god of medicine)

-Temple of Nike (the goddess of victory)

-Parthenon (for Athena, goddess of war and wisdom and Athens’s namesake)

-Erechteion (tomb for Erectheus)

-Street of the Tripods (playwriters’ awards)

Afterwards we had a very nice lunch and then a half an hour to walk around the surrounding Plaka, followed by an afternoon visit to the Acropolis Museum. We don’t have as many pictures of the museum because we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the particularly old or delicate sculptures; nonetheless, we learned how very large many of these sculptures were and that many were painted (but the paint has worn off over time, which is why we just see white marble now).

We learned that sculptures were placed outside of temples as they were more long-lasting sacrifices to gods than food or animals (and they could be seen for longer by one’s neighbors). We also learned what many characteristics of each sculpture means, which has allowed me to provide you with this handy little guide on how to make a sculpture that you want to represent you:

-If you want to seem wealthy --> Include you carrying an animal in your sculpture, because you’re rich enough you can afford to sacrifice your animal.

-If you want to seam wealthy --> Include yourself riding a horse.

-If you want to seem athletic and like a good, capable citizen --> Make yourself naked. The exception to this rule is if you happen to be a women; then, it’s a bit harder to be fully naked. Perhaps consider some tastefully-styled clothing.

-If you want to seem wealthy --> Make your sculpture really, really big.

The moral of this story is that there’s many ways to seem wealthy.

Finally, we ended the day at Monastiraki Square, which, surprisingly, is centered around an actual, cobblestone square. Monastiraki Square also houses the remains of Hadrian’s library (he funded so many things, he may as well have a library with his name on it). We had dinner overlooking the Acropolis—by the end of this trip, I’ll have seen the Acropolis more than I’ve seen my Power School account—and got to walk around and look at the shops. I personally found some nice honey because I’m really seeking to replicate the yogurt experience back in America, but I know no yogurt would survive the layover back.

If anybody knows good Greek yogurt around BCA, please update me.