Reading Greece

With Greece dominating the news in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reliving a 2011 trip with my mom and sister to Santorini, Naxos, and Mykonos. When I travel, whether in preparation for the journey or while I am away, I try to read literature native to the country I’m seeing.

Because we were going to be skipping from island to island, I decided to reread The Odyssey as we ferried around the Cyclades. I first read the book as a freshman in college — at a time when I never could’ve appreciated the phrase “the wine-dark sea.” I actually took that same tattered and dog eared copy with me and it was a happy irony to reacquaint myself with the sheltered young woman that I was back then, although her handwriting in the margins was almost unrecognizable.

When we were in Oia, on the island of Santorini, I made a pilgrimage to the Atlantis Books about which I had read so much on the Internet (more on that at a later time). There, I bought two copies of Sophocles’ Theban trilogy to read once we returned to Athens at the Theater of Dionysus. On the stone steps of the theater ruins, my sister and I read Oedipus to each other in the June heat. When she left to continue sightseeing, I sat quietly and finished Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone (perhaps my favorite play of all time) among the hordes of sunburned tourists.

In light of the drama playing out in Greece this week, I think I will dig out another classic on this slow, cloudy afternoon. Who I will find on my shelves first, Aeschylus or Euripides? I wonder what the wise old playwrights would have to say about Tsipras and Varoufakis. Maybe I will find the answer on the page.

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