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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus must've struck awe into the hearts of visitors when it was complete: a hundred plus enormous Corinthian columns holding up the roof of a temple, inside which sat Zeus himself, a giant statue made of ivory and gold.  "OMFG," people must've said when they saw it, and in the case of Zeus, the "FG" wasn't just a figure of speech.
The Turks, during their occupation, knocked down one column after another, extracting lime for their building projects. One column lies in slices on its side, but it wasn't the Turks who did that, but an earthquake.  How one extracts lime from marble, what use lime is in building, and what became of whatever the Turks built, I can't say, but you can't help thinking part of the real motivation was just raw envy and spite. Making off with the gold and ivory statue was old-fashioned greed - which isn't as bad and in any case had probably been accomplished long before the Turks. Anyone who leaves a gold and ivory statue sitting around in a public place has it coming, as far as I'm concerned.  But to destroy the columns!
Lord Byron gave his life in a Romantic (that is to say, useless) gesture, wishing to join the resistance against the Turks. He wrote some poems, too, but those had limited persuasive effect. Nevertheless, if he hastened the end by even one day, one hour, if he helped save but one percent of one tenth of one of those mighty columns, he is a hero to the world.

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