Posts Tagged ‘Grecian diatribe’

messrs packham & vigars take greece

August 23, 2009

Oh, Greece. You awkward conglomeration of islands. You frail & fractured eastward gateway. The apex of the pyramid of the ancient world (would it detract from its greatness using an Egyptian construct as the metaphor? & anyway, the apex is the smallest, least grand part of the pyramid, so nevermind that).

Greece is funny. Just three thousand years ago; the height of universal edification & education. But too many wars I suppose have spoilt its broth. & it now appears to be like the dysfunctional family of Europe, as you hop nimbly between cities each one – rightly so – has its own feel, but it doesn’t seem much to hang together as a whole.

I’d been looking forward to going since Sixth Form really – that’s 2004 – & obviously didn’t turn down a fully-funded parent-led expedition to the Hellenic lands. Fer queen n’ cuntry, obviously.

Now. When you’ve been reading & writing about a country for nearly 5 years, you sort of somewhat, might, accidentally build up expectations. Greece takes on a kind of preemptive grandeur before we’ve even left the airport. & thankfully it lived up to these expectations. The ruins of Greece. The ancient cities. The temples. The stadiums. The labyrinths. The theatres. Even the fucking mountain ranges & crystalline waters. They are all perfect. It really makes you step back a moment when you think; somewhere along this dusty mountain path some grey & Sapphic wiseman may have philosophised – somewhere else a man with a beard might have written a play – was democracy first born, wailing & reluctant by that boulder? & that’s just the reality. Along this path Theseus wound his string – here the omphalos stone was cast & everything was suddenly centred – across those waves Odysseus was flung far from Penelope – from one of these crumbled houses Oedipus would one day return to Thebes. I don’t mean to go on, but I really could. Zeus. Cronos. The Bacchae. Apollo. The Titanomachy. The Gigantomachy. Heracles. Jason. Medea. Tartarus. Erebus. Icarus. Athene. Aphrodite. Poseidon, Helios & the Muses…  It really makes one swoon.

There is an immensity, a feeling that the scale of everything here was just vast beyond vastness, that I’ve never felt anywhere.

But. & yes, there is a But. & perhaps it’s because the ancient Greece is so unbearably great, but everything else just feels a bit off. Of course, I don’t wish to in anyway suggest that Greek culture & architecture is inferior to English or French or Welsh or German culture & architecture. But it just isn’t ancient Greek. Some of the sad, deteriorating buildings are just too close together – the coastal resorts tend to be a rather tourist-orientated venture – the roads & their ‘rules’, well, quite. In the middle of nowhere though, caught in the cross-eyed gaze of a withered mountain goat, with the timeworn mountains behind you, & the impossible blue of the sea, with its bounty of primordial genitals, & frankly, England can keep its poxy bits of stone in a circle.

So that is that, & that is Greece. & I wanted to talk about other places in this post, but I fear it already has plenty of length & material for you to masticate over in your skull-boxes.


& now for your amusement; a pillar with a penis.

(view it in its magnificent full-sized glory here:

& below, a proper photo, Delphi’s Temple of Apollo;

yes, it really is a really real ancient greek penis column

temple of apollo