23 November 2010

I Have The Answer!

... to political gridlock. Really.

But I owe you a glimpse of my trip to Greece, which is fast receding from memory. While I am disposed to telling you of my trip day by day, I will fast forward from my visit to the acropolis on the day after I arrived to the second to last day I was there. I went to the ancient agora or marketplace. They call is the ancient one to distinguish it from the Roman era agora. That gives you a sense of how old they mean. Think 2500 years.

The view to the left is toward the best preserved ancient Greek temple in the world, one devoted to Haephestus, the god of metallurgy and stuff. Between the temple and me are assorted ruins of government offices, about which I will speak later. But this is just a cool view, even on a cloudy day.

As you can see on the right, there are still walls of the interior 'cella' which enclosed the statue. And you can see how the temple is supported by columns inside as well as around the outside. The lattice work is part of the original roof, but the original frieze (the carved bas reliefs above the inner row of columns) has been removed to protect them. This is a modern replica.

I add the other picture to show how the columns have shifted over the years. They are actually made from sections called drums, which are stacked up as you can see. As Greece is known for earthquakes (The whole Mediterranean basin has this gift) over time tremors have likely shaken the columns enough to do this. You should know that the Greeks had no know-

ledge of cement or mortar. They simply hold together by artful use of the physics of force and friction.

But as impressive as this was and is. A far more imposing place was almost abandoned. Nary a soul was back in that corner of the place and even I did not know it was there. But along the old street of the marble workers, shown below, is also what remains of the ancient prison.

Why does this matter? Because it is likely the place where Socrates was imprisoned and in which he took the famous dose of Hemlock. For those who revere Plato and Aristotle, who think the golden age of Athens truly shaped the world, this is the epicenter.

It is sobering to think that Socrates was convicted for telling the truth, something that one would think would be celebrated not condemned. But it would happen again four hundred years later in Jerusalem. The more things change...

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