Sunday, April 12, 2015

Christos anesti!

It is Easter Sunday in Greece today.

Our adventures on the Thursday of our happy week may have to be related in two parts – a) because today is Sunday, and time presses; and b) because part of the day involved knitting and I want to expand on the subject.

We went back in to central Athens, to the museums which had been closed on Monday. And visited the National Archaeological Museum.

You've already seen a picture of me with the Kouros of Sounion. 

The Museum also contains, among much, much else, this bronze statue of Zeus. Sixty years ago, I think he was Poseidon, but he seems to have been upgraded. Is this the greatest Greek statue of them all? He certainly comes high on the short list.

There is an exhibition on in London at the moment, of Greek art. I read a review of it, shortly before we left, grumbling that the exhibition is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, thus depriving the viewer of the chance to contemplate the question of how and why classical Greek art became so good.

If my arithmetic is right (as I have said, it's Sunday; there's not really time to think this through) the interval between the KofS and Zeus is about the same as that between us and the Impressionists – not a million years, in other words. What happened? The Good Guys won the battle of Marathon, is one thing.

And they acquired a knowledge of anatomy that Leonardo would have admired. You can see Zeus' muscles rippling under his bronze skin. His balance is perfection – he is in the act of throwing a (missing) thunderbolt. His size is also just right. He is a god, and therefore bigger than you or I. But not a giant.

He makes the eyes prickle, like Raphael's portrait of Castiglione in the Louvre.

We also saw Schliemann's gold hoard from Mycenae. I must have seen it 60 years ago, but I don't remember it. Wow!

There are lots and lots of funeral monuments from the Keramikos where we had walked on Monday – Greeks solemnly saying goodbye to each other in a way, as Helen poignantly remarked, that one never gets to do in real life.

And this, a little boy and his uncomfortable dog:

It comes from Asia Minor somewhere. A Greek family brought it back – and it must have been an awkward piece of luggage – when Greece and Turkey exchanged populations in 1922.

So, knitting and other shopping tomorrow, insh'Allah.

1 comment:

  1. Alithos Anesti! What a good perspective on the distance between the two statues.