I Heart Indies

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Knossos



Knossos.
An enigma inside a puzzle wrapped in a mystery shrouded in tourism.
Sir Arthur Evans, bless his heart, in his heavy handed attempts to preserve a site that predates the Golden Age of Greece by 1200 years, brought in cement mixers and Sherwin Williams paint and tarted the place up as he imagined it must've looked three millenia ago.
Still.  Owing to him we have insights into a remarkable culture that had impressive art and architecture and a written language we may never decipher. Standing before the famous fresco of a boy sommersaulting over the back of a bull, you think, "This is it! Surely this is it! The Palace of Minos, and surely this bull-dancing is the inspiration for the Minotaur!" Some Greek mythographer did to the Minoans what Arthur Evans was to do again in another few thousand years - take an alien culture, shuffle the pieces around, repaint them, pour in concrete to fill in the gaps, and interpretted it after his own liking.
But you look at the frescoes and you know - you just know - that whatever misinterpretations intrude, that these were people who had music, poetry, and song. Unlike the more sanguine artwork of the later Hellenistic culture, here there are no pictures of Zeus off to rape Metis, Zeus off to rape Ledo, Zeus off to rape Ganymede or Europa or whomever, just happy women, monkeys, playful octopi, and a smiling youth doing a sommersault over a bull's back.

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