I was in Athens. After months of reading numerous books on Classical Greece, I was finally in the city which had given birth to democracy, intellectual freedom, and the concept of individuality. My breath caught in my throat in bated excitement as I took the long drive from the airport to the hotel, amidst much heat, pollution, noise, crowds, and huge run-down buildings lining traffic-laden streets.
Next morning I commenced my exploration of the city’s glorious art and history. The heavy cloak of modern urban Athens slowly parted to reveal the Athens I’d come to see from across the many seas, the Athens of incomparable beauty.
Athens: An education to [Classical] Greece
To fully experience the classical beauty of Athens is to understand the essence of Greek civilization. Athens, the “school of Hellas”, and in Pericles’ words, “the city that was an education to Greece”, was the cultural and intellectual well-spring of Greek life in antiquity. During Greece’s Golden Age, the period commencing with the defeat of the Persians in 479 BC to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war in 431 BC, it displayed a vigour that has no parallel in the history of man. And this golden age glowed brightest during the 30 years it had the leadership of the political genius of Pericles, the city’s first citizen, austere aristocrat, soldier, orator, and statesman. Continue reading