Some loose ends from around Athens:
- The last time I set foot here was about 20 years ago. Changes: much less smog and traffic, many more graffiti, especially around the University. I have no good ideas about the graffiti, but I wonder about the smog and the traffic. Is it better fuel processing efficiency? The price of gas (calculating in my head, I think about $12 a gallon for premium)? Economic doldrums (everyone staying home?)?
- Those boar tusks on Minoan helmets--I am assured that they were not merely decorative, but fully weaponized. I wonder. You'd have to be awfully close, and the strap would have to be mighty tight. Anyway, I have an operatic Wagnerian horned helmet which I wear to class on silly days. Twenty years and I've never yet gored a student.
- The new(ish) Parthenon museum: indeed it is a prodigy of political theatre, demonstrating so emphatically that yes, we can provide a home for the Elgin marbles, long so unjustly (so they say) withheld in London. It's an impressive showing, although I never thought Elgin was quite the bad boy as which he is often cast--look at the frieze panels in place here and you get some sense of just how shabby the London pieces would look if they, too, had been left just lying around on the ground for another century or more. But beyond that--if it is so important to move the Elgin marbles back from London to Athens,wouldn't it be just as important to move the Minoan Boxers back from the Athens Archaeological Museum home to their source on the Island of Santorini?
- And while we are taking on current politico/cultural controversies: it dawns on me that there really were lions in Greece, well into the Iron Age (where else did Hercules get his lion suit?). Now that we we have reintroduced wolves to Yosemite, is there anyone lobbying for the reintroduction of lions to Greece?
- A final thought: Israel had 12 tribes and lost ten, some time before the end of the 6C BCE. Just a few years later, Athens emerges with ten tribes. Just sayin'.