Athens has a bad reputation and in all honesty it isn’t hard to see why. After the serene and tranquil beauty of the Greek islands, the loud streets, sweltering heat and frequent sightings of slightly less savory characters makes for an unflattering comparison. Even so this harsh modern city makes for a splendid contrast with the ancient wonders of the Athenian Acropolis. Like an owl, the city’s ancient emblem, the ruins of the Acropolis are perched calmly overlooking the city, watching as the people that fill scramble to do their business each day.
The Acropolis also bears witness to Athens’ role as the birthplace of Western civilization and the ruins found there are one of the greatest sites Europe has to offer. To think that the monumental architecture found there still impresses, even in decay and even some 2,500 years after their construction, gives some small hint as to the wonder they must have instilled when they were first built. Not only imposing in their stature, but built with attention to the minutest mathematical to insure the finest perfection in perspective, their outward simplicity masks an almost unimaginable attention to detail.
Of course the ruins of the Acropolis are only one small piece of the historical wonders I’ve been treated to this trip. The ruins of Knossos were already ancient and mythical at the time Athens was undergoing its Golden Age. If, as I walk over the crumbling stones, picturing them at full splendor with the mind’s eye requires some imagination, it’s worth noting what Yoda might say: “When 3,500 years old your house is look this good it will not.”
Humor aside, the ruins can stimulate some serious thought. Perhaps it is
difficult among the crowds of camera happy tourists and children that crowd the more famous ruins, but when I wander the streets at night and see some small stone wall or gave at the shore from the deck of a ship and see the stones of ancient monuments posed serenely on a woody hillside, I think of the builders, how distant in time they are from me, but how close in thoughts and emotions. They had the same concerns for their lives, their families and the impact they would leave upon the future.
I doubt I’ll be remembered in 3,000 years, but will perhaps some small fragment of my existence, a chair I once sat on or a photo I took linger somewhere an attract a moments attention from some passerby? What will my civilization even leave? The 500 years since the renaissance have seen almost unimaginable rapid change, but the 250 year history of a country like United States is only a short stretch compared to the long centuries or Rome or Byzantium. What record will be left when people look back across the millennium through the lens of lost time?