Another morning of sleeping through my alarm. Shower and breakfast before noon: strawberries and Greek yoghurt. Then off to the École Francaise d'Athenes to renew ma carte de lecteur
and settle in for two hours' reading of Gere's Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism
. I really need to think more thoroughly about my conference paper's goals: it is easy enough to point out elements of "Minoan" symbology in two SFnal works, particularly when both works make explicit reference to "Minoans," but interrogating why
and pointing out the evidentiary problems with the received wisdom on "Minoan" civilisation may prove somewhat more complicated.
At 1510, having spent at least two hours in the library and grown cranky with hunger, I left l'ÉFA and set off for Plaka - via, due to my disinclination to walk much before food, Panepistimio metro - where I found myself satisfactorily fed at the first estiatorio on Adrianou. Pretty good chicken fillet grilled, fried potato, and cucumber (all for 10 euro!) and then frozen yoghurt in the yoghurt place. Decided to walk up to the Pnyx, around the back of the agora, it being after 1600 and the Agora, in consequence, being closed. Hot, but not scorching: about 28C. Dust and laurel and bay. Pink flowers which I wish I could identify - I need a handbook of Greek flora - cascading at intervals in the bushes.
At Thisseio, turn left. It would've been easier to get to the Pnyx
proper and the seat of the assembly if I'd turned right just before the Sanctuary of Pan, but I did not know that then, and continued up to where the tourist buses turn around between the Pnyx and the South Slope of the acropolis, and turned right there. Pine trees! Tourists! No water fountains! The late fourth century wall built to protect the agora and the city from the Macedonian threat - or at least its very sketchy remnant.
I came out onto the assembly space eventually. A grassy flattish slope, the Areopagus visible across the agora, the Propylon of the Acropolis half-hidden by pines: from the right angle, the skene of the Odeon of Herodius Atticus can be seen, and one has a true sense of its size. I sat there for a while, watching an unsociable tortoise retreat from munching on a plant and slope off towards the trees after I sat down beside it.
I was sitting on the wall that encloses what looks like, to a casual glance, an earlier phase. But it's not labelled, nor marked on any of the nearby plans. I wonder now if it's not a sanctuary of some kind, but without doing some more reading (which is not immediately relevant to my concerns right now) I hesitate to hazard a guess. I met two archaeologists (students? properly employed?) there, one from Vancouver and one from Richmond VA, who also seemed to be puzzled by it - and who also did not know the agora closed at 1500, which inclined me to believe they had not been in Athens before.
Then back to Monastiraki via the flea market, and home. I wandered through the book festival that seems to be going on in Ares Park for a while, wishing my Greek was better, and now I am sitting on the couch listening to a cat complain somewhere outside - sounds like the grounds of the Austrian Institute, though I could be wrong. Miaow! Miaow!
I suppose I should do some calisthenics, and go lie down. Tomorrow, as they said in that episode of Farscape, is a rest