Dear Donaldus. You were my go-to person for a number of years, the one person I could count on to read what I was reading, talk about anything that has to do with culture, write fabulous actual letters, argue about ideas in the most satisfying sense of the term. I saw Greece for the first time through your eyes, too, because you were always less romantic than I was, but equally interested in things, and I knew that I had to modulate what I wrote to you.
Today we wandered to the village for breakfast–yoghurt for me, eggs benedict for CMWJ–then walked up and down the endless warren of small shops, souvenirs, jewelry, jewelry, souvenirs. We stopped a couple of times for coffee and sparkling water. Then we came back to the hotel and talked about relatively mindless things. I’m good for about two days at a place like Santorini before I want to do something, see something, read something, explore something. Beach culture has never seemed to me very interesting. I suppose I don’t relax well, but I find that I need more stimulation than sand and a Corona.
We are going up to Oia tonight, for the sunset tour. The hotel takes us, drops us off, and comes back three hours later to fetch us. Oia is the blue and white Santorini. I never do get tired of a Greek salad, and the chicken souvlaki we had last night in Fira was delicious.
I’m reading Herodotus. I’ve made a run at his Histories a number of times in life, but never finished. Herodotus is always delightful, but it’s hard to follow the line of his larger argument (why the Greeks defeated the Persians, and what led to the historic conflict), and the translations have been pretty stiff. But now the great Tom Holland (of Rubicon and Dynasty) has produced a racy, delightful, fast-paced translation. I’ve read a couple of hundred pages, laughed out loud a dozen times (try that with the classics), and learned a good deal in the process. I remember actually translating the Croessus/Solon debate back at the University of Minnesota.
Holland has done classical studies a tremendous service, by writing about it as if it were not that different from our own culture. My hope is that he lives long enough to translate the Odyssey, and perhaps even Thucydides Peloponnese War.
Donaldus, you should read Holland’s work, if you haven’t already.