WITH IRIS THROUGH ANTIQUE GREECE
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe;
design Florin-Alexandru Stancu-
during the last hours of a trip in Greece
(the country that climbed astronomy on superior stairs,
where ancient sky lovers asserted that the Earth is round,
where the first astronomical computer, Antikythera,
was created in antiquity,
and where Aristarchus of Samos said two millennia before Copernicus
that our planet turns round the Sun…),
I heard Iris,
the goddess of rainbow
(that connects the earth to the sky)
from beyond the window of the bus:
“If you want to make order in your memories,
think of Chronos,
the god of time,
and try a chronology.”
I thought she was right,
so I began with Mycenae,
the seat of the first major Greek civilization.
From Homer’s Ilyad
we know that the greatest Mycenian king
was Menelaos (cca. 1200 BCE),
who united Greek tribes,
traversed the Aegenian Sea
and conquered the Troy fortress
after a war of 10 years.
Today we have the possibility
to see the ruins of the Mycenae fortress
and, next to it,
even the Grave of Menelaos,
which seems like a Greek pyramid.
Then, pressed by warmth,
I drank a beer in the honour of…
Antique Greece’s history
is extremely intense,
so what’s next?
“Sparta, of course!”
was Iris’ answer.
I remembered that the main ally of Menelaos
was Agamemnon, King of Sparta,
whose wife Elena
was abducted by the Troyan prince Paris,
a fact that became the pretext
for the war of Troy.
Sparta shone in Greek history
not through architecture, culture and arts,
but through a civilization of bravery,
its main representative being King Leonidas (5th century BCE),
whose statue marks Sparta of today.
But to understand Leonidas better,
we should go to Thermopylae…
The legend says that here,
Leonidas and 300 Spartans fought 1000000 Persians!
it seems that the 300 Spartans were helped for a while
by a few thousands of other Greeks,
while the Persians led by King Xerxes
were a few tens of thousands.
the heroism of Leonidas and comp.
inspired other union of Greek cities that,
defeated the Persians and saved Europe.
May I consider Athens
the 3rd major moment in Greek antique history?
replied Iris to me.
Maybe I should begin
with the surroundings of Athens,
and in this respect
the Battle of Marathon (42 km distance)
is famous because
the Athenians defeated the Persian army of King Darius
one century before the invasion of King Xerxes.
But Athens was
the city of peace, culture, arts
and so many premiers in human civilization,
so I prefer to begin from Cape Sunion (60 km distance).
the inhabitants of the city had to choose their patron
between Athena and Poseidon.
And they chose Athena
(who also became the constellation Maiden,
keeping in her hands another constellation,
the Scales of Justice),
and at the same time they built a temple
in the honour of Poseidon,
not to make the god of the sea furious.
just because you connect the earth to the sky,
I tell you that,
if I would be a cultural responsible,
I would try to make a few things
for a better understanding of the world:
because the Mycenians were the followers
of the brave hero Perseus
(they were named just Persis,
sons of Perseus),
I would make a big map
with the radiant of the Perseid meteors,
and I would organize a yearly summer camp
for observing the maximum of this meteor shower.
because the Spartans were the followers
of the brave hero Hercules,
I would install a large map
with the constellation named after him.
-In Cape Sunion,
because Neptune was just a late Roman variant
I would install a large telescope
for watching the planet with this name.
-And about Athens,
thinking of its revolution
in knowledge and humanism,
it certainly deserves more exclusive
© 2013 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)