In just four days in Athens we’ve visited the Benaki Museum, the magnificent ruins and museum at Delphi, climbed to the Acropolis and inspected the Parthenon, and been to the Acropolis Museum and the breathtaking National Archaeological Museum in central Athens.
In the days ahead we have a schedule of further trips and tours to see the wonders of Greece.
I’ve been struck by the large number of Greeks who are taking advantage of the mid-summer holidays to visit these historic places with their children. But I’ve also been surprised by the large number of overseas tourists. They come from all over the world – Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the UK, Scandinavia, Russia, China, Japan, the US, Brazil, central America, Argentina and Australia – to marvel at the grandeur of Ancient Greece.
Why do we do it? There is an irrepressible human desire to visit the past with the simple idea of finding out where we all come from.
In Greece, as in Egypt, the physical monuments of the earliest civilisations are immensely beautiful and hauntingly magnificent.
When we inspect the restored ruins of Karnak on the Nile or Delphi in the Parnassus Mountains we are awe-struck by their size and splendour. We save up to make trips halfway around the world to inspect the past and we are enchanted by the history of these two great peoples.
Then we look at modern Cairo and Athens and ask: where did it all go wrong?
I don’t believe that it ever went “wrong”. The history of civilisations has its own rhythm determined by the development of tools, machinery, science, technique, weapons, communication, transport etc.
The development of societies and nation states is uneven: under given circumstances some countries leap ahead while others fall behind. However, we are all marching as a single human civilisation that is interconnected spiritually, culturally and historically. What conquests are made in one part of the world are conquests for whole of humanity. The point we have reached today is how to share that knowledge, wisdom and wealth more evenly. How do we end the rule of the oligarchs (Greek word) and have a democracy (another Greek word) of the world’s wealth? Discuss.
There is something heroic and magnificent about this week’s decision to start work on Greece’s next great contribution to world culture – a $900 million complex for the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece. It will include the greatest performance space since the amphitheatre of Epidaurus in the 4th century BC.
The project, due for completion in 2015, is being funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, named after the late shipping billionaire.
It has been designed by the world famous architect Renzo Piano as an icon that “represents the aspirations of Greeks in the third millennium” and incorporates “sustainability in every aspect” of its master plan.
Earthworks have just started on the edge of Faliro Bay overlooking the Athens waterfront just as the primates from the Euro-banks comb over Greece’s economy with a view to pauperising the nation and breaking the spirit of its people.
While the pygmies in the treasury houses of London, Bonn, Berlin, Washington and Canberra are all talking austerity, Greece is investing in jobs, the economy and future generations. Go the Greeks!
JOIN THE QUEUE
Just in case you missed the news, a sixth Euro-state is about to join the queue for a bailout from the banks (they’d be the same banks which put them into hock in the first place).
Step forward Slovenia whose national debt is so vast that its loan repayments have brought the economy to the brink of bankruptcy.
The 17-nation Euro currency zone already has five countries on bailout life support – Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. Who will be next?
The political parties of the parliamentary left have been subjected to factional splits, resignations and walk-outs over their handling of the economic crisis.
But rarely does the political turmoil infect New Democracy which stands somewhere just to the right of the British Tories and the Australian Liberal Party.
Last month one of its MPs, Nikos Nikopoulos, resigned as deputy Labour Minister over his party’s craven response to the bail-out demands of Brussels.
Now he has Tweeted: “A recession worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. Our country has been in recession for more years in a row than any other. It cannot take any more.”
The result? The governing party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has expelled him.