Monday, May 23, 2016. My daughter and I are off to Greece. It’s her graduation gift for four hard years at Columbia University. We land in Athens tomorrow afternoon. Two nights in Athens, two on the island of Santorini, three days wandering about Homeric sites in the Peloponnese, then Corinth and Delphi.
I’ve spent about half a year in Rome over the past four years, and I love it for all the obvious reasons: Michelangelo, Bernini, the Roman Forum, Italian food, the Pantheon, St. Stefano Rotondo and St. Peter’s. But Greece has always attracted me more than Rome. I cannot wait to see Greece through the eyes of a young classicist.
I’ll be posting photos with extended captions a couple of times per week for the next ten days. I’m not taking a computer—this is a journey to reawaken my sense of wonder—so my written commentary will be like an electronic postcard.
My iPad is loaded with Herodotus, Pausanias, Homer, and Zorba. My backpack has Michael Grant on Greek and Roman myth, a new book following the footsteps of Odysseus, and (oddly) photocopies of two chapters about George Custer’s 1874 reconnaissance trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Thomas Jefferson never saw Rome (1787) and he never even thought about visiting Greece, which was still under the Ottoman yoke during Jefferson’s lifetime. Greek independence (including the heroic presence of Byron) did not come until Jefferson was dead. The Grand Tour stopped in his time at Naples, and did not find its way to the other side of the Adriatic.
You will not hear from me until the other side of Retsina and a Greek salad.