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Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 10:24 am
In Athena's city

Ah, Athens. It's still in the eurozone -- no passports, no currency exchange -- and yet it's as oriental and strange as Europe gets. Up on the roof terrace of my old friend Babis' house in the warm night, I'm gazing at the most amazing sight: the skull-like stones of the Parthenon, with the skull-like hulk of a hollow moon looming above it. I'm here for the Athens art biennial and its funky spinoff ReMap2, but I'm wondering about the Greek religion.

How come it doesn't have a name, that religion? We just call it "Greek mythology", but of course no active religion ever admits it's a mythology. Religions in general don't tend to give themselves names -- it's a little too relativistic, and a religion is a cosmology, an account of everything that is. It would prefer to be totalitarian -- to be the account of the origins of everything rather than another account of the origins of everything.

But the Greek religion was a religion, and on the Acropolis stood a magnificent temple to Pallas Athena in her role of Athena Parthenos, Athena the virgin. There was a gigantic golden statue of this virgin, born by parthenogenesis (springing fully-grown and armed from the forehead of Zeus) inside the pillared main hall of the temple. As for Athena's origins, thousands of years BC, people say she originated in the ancient Egyptian religion (there isn't a name for that either) and came to Greece via Libya and the Minoan culture of Crete.

Athens is the virgin's city, and her temple still looms over it. I was a virgin when I first came to live here, but the orgasmic cries drifting up to the roof terrace and the couple dramas being enacted on the narrow, vibrant, orange tree-lined streets below suggest that Athenians don't stay virgins long.



Later in the week we'll take a 7 euro, one-hour ferry to the island of Aegina, to see the mysterious house -- itself containing the symbols of the cosmology of an unnamed religion -- I blogged about a couple of months back. Aegina too is Athena's island. The virgin seems to be flirting with us.

7CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)

What are you doing in Athens? Are you performing?


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)

No, it's just a holiday. I'm seeing art at the 2nd Athens biennial.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)

a holiday? from what?


ReplyThread Parent
graywyvern
graywyvern
graywyvern
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)

visit some of the islands if you get a chance; & Delphi really is a mystical place...


ReplyThread
endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ah, Athena . . .

I once knew a girl named Athena. She liked 10,000 Maniacs, wore mock turtlenecks, read authors such as Toni Morrison, and gave off a crushingly gray National-Public-Radio aura. She embodied all that was bad about good taste in the 80s, and her name was the crowning achievement of that.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Ah, Athena . . .

Well Alex 'All Smiles' James from Blur has a child called Artemis.

(His others are called Geronimo, Galileo and Sable)


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)

Gageons que la mer soit belle, et que la fête soit un grand moment de convivialité.


ReplyThread