Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Greece, 1959-1961 (a)

All the Images may be Clicked to Zoom
Through the Isthmus in the Corinth Canal:
Photo from 1970 (see poster)
Any vessel not more than about 200 ft. can use the Corinth Canal and avoid sailing around the Peloponnesos. These photos are not my first, but they are relatively good. On the canal, still impressive, see Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinth_Canal. The TSS New York, on which I first came to Europe, was barely able to sail through the Canal, though not on the voyage that I took, and I arrived on something smaller, out of Brindisi.
For a few posts I'd like to write about Greece c. 1960 (my stay, minus the holidays in England and some research in South Italy and Sicily, was from the autumn of 1959 through the summer of 1961). My photos from Greece may be of interest since, though I photographed for the beauty of that land and the great-heartedness of the Greeks, I was living there, I knew more and more of the spoken language (until people would ask me whether I was German—Germans being famous for learning to speak Greek better than the rest of us, and I was red-headed, as Greeks tended to think most Germans were—or even, in spite of my looks, Greek-American), and I was just as likely to photograph a scene without a name and without ruins as one in the Blue Guide: using the Canal as a frontispiece is only because that's where I arrived, just as Liverpool is where I arrived, initially, in England. This blog is not a catalogue raisonné of my academic resumé!
Finding all the old slides and negatives is no joke, so I'll just take them as they come to light.
For example, from our trip bus, at a brief stop, here is Euboea as seen from Attica on the road to Scala Oropou, where we would visit the Amphiareion. For the Info, just Search Oropos. This is an introduction to the beauty of Greece, the tourist hotels and the historic sites being amply covered both on line and in the venerable Blue Guide.

On the way to Scala Oropou, Euboea from Attica. Think of smelling the pines.

Once a week, early in the morning, the donkeys' braying is your alarm to wake up. A decade later, both for traffic control and purportedly for sanitary reasons, donkeys were no longer permitted within the city limits, though the outdoor market, much more stylish and higher off the hog, is still held in the little plateia up the hill from the Marasleion school. The dealers who had donkeys sent them somewhere else between breakfast and siesta time. It is amusing to have seen open-air markets featuring local produce and, at some, local junk, too, re-appear in the USA; the rambler rose that thrives at one corner of my house was a gift purchased at our Saturday Market. But here are two bad, old scans of photos from February of 1961 of the market just above the American School in Athens.

Laiki Agora February 1961
Once on the road, or the sea, for study, touristic photographs, especially at first (and this is autumn of 1959, my only visit as it happens, to Mykonos), often were taken on the fly and towards the end of the day. Old ASA 10 Kodachrome, in any case, though it survives best, was always a dense emulsion, in three layers. We weren't there to see Mykonos windmills, let alone donkey carts and the pet pelican Petros, but for Delos, and persons who have been to Mykonos more recently than 1959 will know whether it has changed very much.

Mykonos Quai, Autumn 1959
One day at Delos, after our reports and all were done, Professor Vanderpool asked if I'd like to climb to the top of Mt. Kynthos—a mountain just my size, for I was not born to climb. On the way up there's a Hellenistic, 2nd century BCE, temple of Serapis, and from the top you can see a number of the Cyclades, not that I can name them from my sunset photos. It is from Kynthos, of course, that Artemis takes her epithet, Kynthia, so that poets like Sir Philip Sidney called Diana, too, Cynthia, whence hundreds of thousands of girls of the western world. I wonder what those poets imagined Kynthos was like, considering their fantasy image of Arcadia. The Cyclades are rocks, the peaks of submarine mountains, and Kynthos is the peak of Delos.

September 1959, from the top of Mt. Kynthos
That is, I think the only color photo of a sunset I took in Greece; later I took one from the acropolis of Thessaloniki but in black-and-white.
I spoke of Arcadia, and the site of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae is almost my favorite place in all of Greece. Again, antique Kodachrome recorded it near the end of a cloudy day. Again, too, as for all of these places, go to Wikipedia or the Blue Guide or Perseus for the relevant antiquities. This is the place for the images and memories that I hardly had a chance to use in teaching, when students would ask whether they 'had to' know those pictures. Recently the temple has been in a large tent for renovation, having suffered too many times from earthquakes, so I never photographed it with newer film or a better camera. But, nota bene, this really IS Arcadia.

Just before our leaving the site, the sun broke through and struck the temple.

And finally, back to Euboea, here is a 1959 photograph of Chalkis:

It was another such towering cumulus cloud that tempted me, looking toward Mt. Olympus, to photograph a sunset in Thessaloniki.