Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cruising the Greek Isles (Delos/Mykonos)

On the sixth day of our sojourn in Greece and our second day sailing the Aegean Sea in our yacht, we came to Mykonos.  We spent the morning visiting the Island of Delos (traveling the two miles from Mykonos to Delos by sea bus).  Since 1872, The French Archeological School of Athens has been excavating this sacred site, considered only second to Delphi. 

According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, the twin offspring of Zeus by Leto.  When Leto was discovered to be pregnant Zeus’ jealous wife Hera banished her from the earth, but Poseidon took pity on her and provided Delos as a place for her to give birth in peace.  Artemis was the goddess of hunting, the wilderness and wild animals.  She was also the goddess of childbirth, and the protectress of the girl child up to the age of marriage.  Apollo, her brother, was the god of music, truth and prophecy, healing and poetry.  Delos is covered with a variety of temples and sanctuaries dedicated to these twins and other gods.

Nowhere else on earth is there a natural insular archaeological site like Delos.  No other island on earth has so many monumental antiquities (650 BC to the end of the Hellenic period).  “Delos,” someone has written, “is not a museum; Delos is not there to tell a story.  Delos is history itself.”

We were back at Mykonos by noon and enjoyed lunch on our yacht, before a leisurely afternoon wandering about Mykonos (Chora) which is one of the most touristy of the Greek Isles.  A nice dinner at a taverna made my day!

Some ask, "Why travel thousands of miles to see piles of rock, mosaic floors and old columns of marble on some little island in the middle of nowhere?"  My answer is this.  These stones, floors, and columns speak.  They tell a story of a people who came before.  People who struggled, loved, cried, suffered, sang, danced, partied, and worshipped.  People who thought, dreamed, wondered, and tried to understand the world in which they lived and died, just as we do.  These people speak through the piles of rocks that once provided them a home, and floors upon which they once walked, and the columns of marble among which they once searched for God, seeking meaning and purpose for their existence.  I feel them.  I hear them. I learn from them.

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