It's 12 o'clock and do I know where Melissa is?

Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
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Trip End Jul 01, 2008


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Flag of Greece  , Peloponnese,
Friday, June 20, 2008

Actually June 19.

I left her blogging at an internet café here in Nauplio and came back to the hotel room to wash some clothes, do up a draft post and sort through today's pics and videos.  This has been the nature of this trip.  We walk or drive to one point of interest after another - two, sometimes three, per day - then cast about for whatever net connection is in or close to where we're staying and blog until 1 or 2 in the morning.   7 or 8 the same morning, rise and repeat.  With some effort we manage to fit in more trivial activities such as eating, griping about how hot it is, and Landmarking our way through the inevitable tensions.  Being able to drive at 150 km/h on some roads makes it easier to fit things in, but that's at the cost of hair loss to Melissa as she pulls it out, so I've been sticking to a more sedate 140.  I am going to be so whacked when this is over.
 
Anyway, our first stop today was ancient Corinth, which was built far back from the sea so as to frustrate pirates and other hostile ship-borne types, under an awesome rock known as the Akrokorinth.  We did a quick run-through of the site and museum as Melissa had promised a friend who is into Hellenic religion to get a photo of a certain religious statue.  No luck, unfortunately.
 
Our second stop was the site of perhaps the most sacred and renowned ancient Greek spiritual procedure, the Eleusinian Mysteries.  No one knows what the Mysteries actually entailed; those who underwent the ritual were sworn not to reveal its content, and over the thousand-odd years it was practiced, people were amazingly steadfast in honouring that oath, so that no one ever recounted it in writing.  What is known is that the Goddess who was central in it was Demeter, the Goddess of fertility and of the Earth, and it somehow related to the story of Hades, the God of the Underworld, abducting her daughter Persephone.  It was reportedly a transformative experience.
 
As Melissa pointed out, under Roman rule the sacred precinct in which the ritual took place was much too dressed up, with fancy marble floors and wreathed columns and all sorts of stone-carven frippery.  But the ruins of the more austere classically-erected building in which the ritual took place are still there, and you can sit on one of the banks of seats that were carved into the living rock for several hundred people at a time to undergo the initiation.

We were originally going to visit the citadel at the capital of the Mycenaean empire, but we decided to leave it until tomorrow and head out fast to Epidauros, home of the most well-preserved ancient Greek theatre in existence.  It's so solid it is still used for shows, and the perfect accoustics are still there.  The accoustic centre of the theatre is demarcated by a circular stone, and a coin dropped onto it can be heard from the top row of seats.  If you stand there and orate or sing, you can hear your voice bounced right back to you.

Epidauros was also the site of the ancient Greeks' most famous healing centre, the Asklepion, named after the God of healing, Asklepios.  Patients visited from all over to be cured of their ills using procedures ranging from the surgical -- see the picture -- to the spiritual.  You would make certain offerings and undergo certain rituals and then sleep on the ground in the designated building, the idea being that the God would come to you in a dream and indicate, generally in a very metaphoric way, how to cure your illness.  Did it work?  Certainly for some people, as the appreciative votive offerings depicting successfully-treated body parts would suggest.
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