Monday, May 8, 2017

The Echo of Greece

Edith Hamilton wrote a book titled “The Echo of Greece,” and how that echo has continued to sound across the passage of time.  One cannot climb the Acropolis in Athens today, or walk through the ancient Agora (marketplace) or climb Mars Hill (Areopagus) nearby without hearing that echo.  In the midst of the modern-day facades of Athens are the ruins of another time, the time of Pericles, Homer, Sophocles, Socrates, Plato, and the Apostle Paul, and many others.  The traffic-choked streets of the city, surrounded by concrete structures instead of marble, covers 165 square miles and is home to nearly 5 million (nearly 40% of Greece’s population).  Yet, in the midst of this Athens we find the ruined halls and the wondrous spirit of her contribution to the world—the Echo of Greece.  If we do not hear “distant footsteps echo through the corridors of time,” if we do not pay heed to them, we shall become an impoverished and diminished people.

The Acropolis stands 512 feet above the city as the undisputed symbol of the emergence of western civilization.  It was both a fortress and a sanctuary for the worship of the goddess, Athena.  The monuments still standing (the Propylaea, the temple of Nike, the Parthenon, and the Erectheion) and the “parts” of monuments strewn everywhere on the Acropolis (and the “parts” hoarded in the British Museum and elsewhere around the world) are from the 5th century B.C.  Some of the walls surrounding the hill (Acropolis) were built in the 13th century B.C.  Like the Pyramids of Egypt, one stands in awe and wonder, pondering how in the world an ancient people created such architecture and sculpture (Pericles, Phidias, Mnesicles, Iktinos and so many others).  I heard “distant footsteps echo through the corridors of time” as I walked upon the Acropolis.

The Agora (the ancient marketplace where Socrates met with his students, and merchants squabbled over the price of olive oil and the locals discussed political affairs, can be viewed from the limestone “Hill of Acres,” or what is described in the Book of Acts as the Areopagus.  Here the Apostle Paul preached his moving sermon about the “Unknown God” (Acts 17:22ff).  Here, too, the supreme judicial court of ancient Athens met.  I heard “distant footsteps echo through the corridors of time” as I looked upon the Areopagus and the Agora.

These ancient folk, like people of all times, experienced everything we experience as human beings:  joy and sorrow, worry and contentment, suffering and comfort.  Upon our return home, we received news that Cherie’s 92-year-old mother had been hospitalized.  Life tumbled in for the ancient Greeks and it tumbles in on us in the modern era.  Cherie will fly to California tomorrow to be with her mother.  I hear the “distant footsteps echo” and the distant hearts beating with “Life”—your life and mine.  We are deaf if we cannot hear these human echoes sounding still.  

The Propylaea and The Temple of Athena Nike

The Erechtheion

The Parthenon

"Hill of Acres" (Areopagus) as viewed from the Acropolis

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