Fitzgerald gifted the world one of the best lines of English literature in The Great Gatsby — “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” The word that intrigues me here is past. Past. History. Origins. And no country has as much twining with the origins of human civilization as Greece. It is overwhelming how a single country can contribute so much to history.
Greece is ancient. And these ancient roots have promulgated in various fields. Literature. Pick up Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy and you will realize the immense influence Greek words have in building up the English language. Philosophy. The three greatest philosophers — Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who laid the foundations of philosophy, were all Greek. Greece is mysterious. The first skirmish with this mystery is the language. The alpha, betas, phis and gammas that made cameos in Mathematics all come to life ubiquitously in Greece. And then our minds conjured up their own regression models to convert these into English, trying to map each letter to a probable English counterpart. And we gloated in our little glories whenever we got that right! But what makes Greece truly mysterious is its Mythology. Yes, its rich, perennial mythology, which is a cauldron of tales of Gods and their skills, their battles and their wits. And even if you just smell this cauldron, you know why the term Greek God is such a compliment!
Greece is Ares.
Like the God of War, it has withstood the storms of time to protect its heritage and culture. Perhaps, the biggest paradigm of this natural heritage in Greece is Acropolis in Athens. A remnant of the lost world, Acropolis is a walk in time, as you stroll past the mighty Parthenon, marvel at the Erectheum and gaze at the sun setting over the Temple of Athena. While most of these structures have been dilapidated because of the Venetian invasion, the fascinating features are the Greek marbles — smooth and mysteriously strong.
Greece is Aphrodite and you know that when you visit the islands, particularly Santorini. The Goddess of Love and Beauty makes its presence felt in each breath here, as it serenades you with an invincible poetic combination of white houses and blue domes. And at dusk, the Goddess just glows up, imparting a yellow tinge to this scene as if it were wearing a golden ornament. This event becomes grander as you invite Demeter, the God of Wine with a bottle of Asirtico.
And when you delve a bit deeper, you find Greece as Zeus. That grandeur is visible in Delphi, which Zeus himself coined as the centre of the Earth. But its true splendor is discernible only in Meteora. The humpy hills, colossal monolithic pillars and neat monasteries on top create a scene unrivalled in every sense of the word. It is one of those places where you want to just stand, breathe in all the air you can, inflate your lungs to the maximum and shout at the top of your voice announcing your love for life!
Greece might be a ‘poor’ country now but it is brimming with gold in terms of literature, history and other fields. And it is this gold that makes the travel experience all the more enriching. Greece offers you a cocktail of characters, each backed by a God to illustrate the importance of various skills and virtues. The question is — can Greece be Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and War, and pull off a smart move in the economic war it’s fighting?
All pictures used are mine and should not be reproduced without permission.