Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Few Pics, And Thoughts, From Greece

In the shadow of Mt. Olympus is Dion, the site of ... well, of a great many ruins, now. Once, the site of temples, steam baths, an amphitheater, shops, houses, a thriving and important community, where the religious sanctuary was the center of everything. Later, because it had a constant supply of spring water, fed by the slopes of Olympus, both Philip of Macedonia and his son Alexander (later, Alexander the Great) housed and trained troops here. One can see places where they tore down buildings, then used the columns as recycled building material for walls and roads. The stone roads have ruts worn in them from chariots and carts; the place feels every bit of its history.

On my visit here, I probably took 200 photos--the site is large and diverse enough that it really looks as if I had visited three or four separate places. The shots here are from the Sanctuary of Isis, once a place of worship, now a place of frogs, fish, and turtles.

Once there was a temple here
With marble columns gleaming white
Once the gods themselves looked down
Upon these altars with delight.
Olympus climbs into the clouds
And mortals look up from below—
The hidden summit must have gods,
We do not just believe—we know.

But gods, it seems, are mortal too
And gods must die, as must we all
And temples, without gods, decay;
Abandoned columns soon will fall.
The people leave; the waters rise;
What was a marble floor, now grass;
The sunken statuary gaze,
And dumbly watch millennia pass.

Once the gods were worshipped here
Today the rulers here, the frogs
Control the fate of damsel-flies;
Athena’s columns for their logs.
The gods, it seems, cannot stop time
And Zeus himself must lose his crown
The land gives way to fish and frogs…
And turtles all the way down.


Mikayla Starstuff said...

'and turtles all the way down'

LOL Nice touch.

markmier said...

Yes, turtles = excellent.

Those pictures remind me of "Ozymandias" by Shelley.

The Ridger, FCD said...


Cuttlefish said...

Thank you, all of you!

Markmier--as you might have guessed, that sonnet was in my thoughts a great deal during my trip, nowhere more than at this precise spot.

Mikayla and Ridger-- I honestly feel like the frogs wrote this one; all I did was take a bit of dictation and correct their spelling. Don't be too terribly impressed; they had, literally, centuries to work on it.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Cuttlefish!

After spending the last three years in the Campania area of Italy, I can really appreciate your translation of the frogs' poem.

Might I have permission to post it on my family website (where all of my Italy photos are)?

Johnny Vector said...

Frogs!!?? They just want to ruin everything!

Frogs! We're the frogs!
The adorable frogs!

Not your hoity-toity intellectuals, Not your hippy-dippy homosexuals,

Just your easy-going, simple, Warm-hearted, cold blooded Frogs

Of the pond
And the fronds we never go beyond..

(Sondheim, in case you don't know.) Given that the setting for "The Frogs" is ancient Greece, it seems quite appropriate here. And certainly I always pictured Dionysus as a Nathan Lane sort of guy.

Also, isn't it enough that you're a great poet, without being good with a camera too? Save some talent for the rest of us, eh?

Cuttlefish said...

Katrina-- I would be honored!

Kevin-- I did not know! You have exposed an area of ignorance! Thank you--I will test my google-fu and try to find it!

MosesZD said...

Really good.