I know I haven’t blogged in a while–WiFi and time have been few and far between, and when they are, it’s short-lived. I’m doing my best.
Before leaving Delphi, we headed to the museum next to the site we visited yesterday. We saw the aforementioned sphinx at the top of the 9m column, as well as a bunch of other things I talked about yesterday.
My pictures are usually of ruins, but I figured I should mention that the temples and statues I talk about were usually painted elaborately, in blues, reds and golds.
We saw one of the most well-preserved temple friezes is the Treasury of the Siphnians of 530 BC that depicted an image of warriors fighting over a body on one side and the Judgment of Paris on the other. Some of the legs of the figures are completely separated from the block of the frieze, something that’s pretty different from most of the friezes we’ve seen.
Aristotle ranked his 3 most important artifacts in the museum for us:
#3: Piece of wall holding inscriptions of lyrics and rhythms for hymns sung in the Pythian games at Delphi. This was one of the few pieces of music that survived from Ancient Greece, and many people have tried to perform it in its original form.
#2: Debris from several gold and ivory statues, the only ones to be found at Delphi, depicting Apollo, Leto and Artemis. Also, a silver statue of a sacrificial bull. There were hundreds of statues like this in Delphi but many were looted, and the gold/silver/ivory ones were the most valuable.
AAANNNNND DRUMROLL PLEAAAAAASE…
#1: The votive offering of Aemilius Paulus. This is a depiction of a real historical event. It’s not a “victory” monument like many we’ve seen that could or could not have accurately depicted the battle, and it’s not a depiction of a mythological battle. It is the oldest relief work narrating an actual event in Greco-Roman history.
We also saw the only large-scale bronze statue that survived in Delphi—it wasn’t looted because it was buried in an earthquake and it shows a charioteer at the moment of his victory with four horses in front of him.
Next we looked at the Fountain of Castalia from the 6th century BC and walked down a steep path to the Temple of Athena. The temple was a circular shape and was one of the first things someone would see when visiting the sanctuary or oracle. At one point, according to legend, we stood in the place where both the Persians and the Gauls were stopped from entering the sanctuary by huge boulders thrown by 2 giants and Apollo, respectively. The area has been found to be very vulnerable to landslides and rockslides.
After the Temple of Athena, we drove for a while to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas. We walked into a gorgeous church that is almost 1,000 years old. The walls and ceilings are covered in mosaics—rich gold, deep blues and reds and greens, patterns outlining icons and saints. It seemed at first as if it was all one picture, but when looked at closely, you can see each individual rectangle of bright color fitted snugly, embraced by all its surrounding pieces.
Aristotle told us that the gold background is symbolic that the events pictured took place in transcendence, disregarding time and place.
We saw the shrine to Loukas, who founded the monastery, where people were healed in a way similar to that of the Asklepion in Epidaurus that I liked so much—sleeping in chambers and performing the processes to ask for healing. We also got to see a skeleton that is believed to be the relic of Loukas.
I bought some honey with thyme at the monastery because a) Barnes recommended it, and b) I am emotionally unprepared to ever leave this wonderful country, so I want to buy things to make it seem like I never left. I am aware the latter reasoning is flawed, but let me have my damn honey, okay?
We drove to Athens after the monastery, and we all went shopping in the Plaka (reminiscing of 3 weeks prior) and then got ourselves dolled up for the first of our farewell dinners. We headed to a restaurant’s deck, overlooking a view of the sun beginning to conceal itself behind the mountains, sending up flares of oranges, pinks, and purples.
After a dinner that was similar to our first in the country, we listened to Barnes toast those leaving us the next day (comparing our big family to a mosaic in which each person is a tesserae in the scheme of a work of art).
We then started our goodbye to Aristotle, the most knowledgeable, wonderfully dorky, paternal, passionate guide anyone could have. More on that in my last section.
We took pictures with everyone and then headed back to the hotel to continue our celebration of KATY’S BIRTHDAYYYYYY (!). I LOVE YOU KATY. I WILL SEE YOU SOON.
Then bed at 1am before waking up at 5:30 for our ferry to Santorini!
1. I just accidentally deleted my notes on my phone that had all my fun facts. I’m very upset right now.
SHEEEEIT I LITERALLY JUST DID IT. WHY AM I DUMB.
I HAD GOOD FACTS TOO!!!! SHIT. SHIT.
2. I guess I’ll just go on to my feels? AWHIEOGLKDIWEJKDS I am unhappy with myself now. Dammit.
My unwilling continuation to all of my feels
I was so sad to say goodbye to amazing people like Jane and Katy and the others. I know I will see Katy soon, but not Jane, who’s going to NY!
Honestly, I was saddest to see Aristotle go. He was obviously sad to be leaving us, and he came to our farewell dinner despite having had a migraine all day. I cried after he left, full disclosure. I can’t imagine our trip without him. He made sure to give us all the information about a site or an artifact that existed. He obviously loves antiquity and history so much, and I will always remember his little quirks, like roof tiles. Barnes, when you read this, will you please send him the link to this blog?
Aristotle, you really cared about all of us. This made you different from any other guide. You gave us your card to call if we got lost (which came in handy for some people in our group) and you always answered my questions fully and made it easy to understand. I love that you have trouble with the words “invisible” and “invincible”. I love that you read aloud from ancient texts at the sites we visited. Thank you so, so much for sharing your knowledge and passions with us.
That’s basically everything that I can possibly feel right now. I am heartbroken to leave those people. I will hopefully see all of them again one day.