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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Athens, Greece

Nancy and I went to Greece on vacation. For the next two weeks, I'll be blogging about it.
When you first arrive in Athens, you may be surprised that it's a city - or at least I was surprised. So habituated I was to thinking of it in terms of ruins - Paul the Apostle being a veritable latecomer - it struck me as incongruous that there were ovepasses and highrises that Athens is home to some five million souls.  The ruins are still there, of course, tumbled to the ground, mostly: Hadrian's library a litter of columns and rubble, within which sprouted a Byzantine church, now itself a ruin; as the living presence inside moved on and left marble and limestone shells.
Beyond Hadrian's library, we came to Keramikos,an ancient cemetery at the walls of the original city.  The adjacent museum housed artifacts including grave monuments, funerary urns, and burial offerings - some of these dating to 1500 BC.  A group of British ladies next to me commented with pleased "oohs" and "ahhs."  "Look at those dice," one said about a display behind the glass case, "he must've been quite a gambler."  "Wouldn't have been happy without them," speculated another.  "Why, you could still play with them today," said yet another, pantomiming picking them up through the glass.  "Things never change," said one of them.
Cheered by this happy observation, which I believe had been made by Xerxes somewhere in Hesiod, I left the museum, passing by an ostuary, its lid suspended by clear plastic pillars to reveal it was filled with bone fragments, I went outside where Nancy was waiting for me on a stone bench, behind her a scrubby pine twisted like a bonsai, behind that the undulating hills of ancient graves, and behind that the skyline of breathing Athens.

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