Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The old and the new in Athens.

Does this look familiar? If you came from RGS, then it is! This is a representation of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and (intelligent) warfare, found at entrance of Panteion University, where we had a meeting with the Centre for Gender Studies.

The ruins in Athens are found in the middle of the urban centres, in between shopping areas of Monastiraki and apartments. We had time in the middle of some days to visit two main ones: The Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Acropolis of Athens. The temple is much bigger than it looks here, and is according to Irma's guide book, about 5000 years old...

Temple of Olympian Zeus
Climbing up the hill towards the Acropolis
The Parthenon: built with slave labour,
renovated with China-assembled machines
It is so bizarre to see architecture familiar to me because of my secondary school - like the Parthenon above. It was built as a temple to the goddess Athena in about 400 BC, converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 5th century AD, and turned into a mosque in the 1460s under the Ottoman empire (it even had a minaret built into it!)

I wonder if the fact that "Parthenon" originates from the Greek word referring to "virgins' apartments" as well as being a temple for a female goddess has anything to do with its choice as a symbol for my school. 

Although it seems that Athena is such a powerful and empowering figure, actual women in ancient Greece were not actually venerated - an example being the practice of sacrificing virgins to ensure the safety of the city. Ugh. 

The Erechtheum temple
The side of the Parthenon

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