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These places from Greek mythology still exist — and you can visit

NSHere once was a man in Greece who wished to build himself a large banquet hall where he could sit and feast day and night. So he went to the sacred grove, where the tallest trees grew, and he and his servants swung their axes, until the fairies that lived there begged him to stop, because when their tree dies, so do they. But the man would not walk, even when he reached the largest, most sacred tree, and the goddess of the harvest, Demeter herself, appeared to warn him not to touch it.

“You have enough,” she said.

He cut the tree anyway, and that night Demeter sent him the Hunger, a thin, sickly creature clinging to the man’s open mouth, and breathing in his undeniable need for food. arguing into his stomach and intestines and into his veins. The man woke up hungry and began to eat, and ordered food, and added food, but no matter how much he ate, it was not enough. He consumes everything in the house, including horses, corn, mules, wheat, bread, fruit, even the domestic cat. And in the end, with his crumbling inheritance and burning stomach, craving for unnecessary, useless, empty food, endlessly consuming, when everything else is gone, the man has no choice. other than eating yourself.

This all happened a long time ago (no one knows when). In fact, like all these old tales, there is more than one version. Myths are slippery and change their shape and meaning, to fit the ages, even though the message of this story seems clear… and uncomfortably topical. What we do know is that the man’s name was Erysichthon, and he was a king (or possibly a prince) and he lived in Thessaly, an area in northeastern Greece that was still forested. luxuriant, at least in some parts, despite the centuries. exploit.

It was thrilling to be able to visit places where Greek myths appeared. Of course, the stories are also often scanned from outside of Greece, either brought back, or combined and cross-pollinated with other stories from other places. But you can still visit Mycenae, the city of gold, and stand at the Lion’s Gate, where King Agamemnon stood after returning from Troy, and imagine his wife, Clytemnestra, greeting him with a smile and murder in the heart. Or you can climb to the top of the Tiryns ruins, whose walls were built by the Cyclopes. Of course it did, because how else could giant slabs of honeycomb be put together, if not with the irresistible muscular strength of one-eyed monsters?

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Visitors walk towards the Lion Gate of Mycenae at the archaeological site of Mycenae, Greece, on Monday, July 27, 2020.

Constantine Tsakalidis / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Greece’s harsh terrain, with its towering mountains and isolated valleys, means that everything is non-localizable. The fragmented terrain is believed to be the reason why the ancient Greeks’ fighting style arose, and why they spent so much time at sea, and why their staple foods were olives and fish. and why as populations grow, they leave to establish colonies elsewhere, less aggravating the landscape. Thebes and Athens are only a day’s walk from each other, but (like every city of the ancient Greek world) they have their own founding stories and legends, even if they share the same population of ancient Greeks. god on Mount Olympus.

You can visit Corinth, even today, and climb to the top of the citadel high above the old city (gave views of Megara Bay below, with its canal and distant buzz of modern town. ), and you can sit in the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite, just a stone hurled down from an erupting sacred spring as Pegasus, the flying horse, slams the ground with his hooves. All is still there. Oedipus of Corinth, living happily with those he thought were his parents, before he set off for Thebes in hopes of avoiding his fate. And looking down from these heights you can see the path Theseus walked, from his home in Troezen, a young man set out to meet his father for the first time, King Aegeus of Athens. While he was there, Theseus swept the route of murderous bandits, so I suppose we have to thank him for the ease with which we can walk along the glittering shore.

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Medieval fortifications overlap with older fortifications at Acrocorinth, Corinth, Greece, 6th-17th centuries.

Gallery G. Dagli Orti / De Agostini via Getty Images

A short distance west of Corinth is the village of Sicyon, once known as Mecone. It was here that Prometheus and Zeus came to an agreement on which parts of animals should be sacrificed to the gods, and which should be kept by humans for consumption. Prometheus tricked Zeus into choosing the bones, and we got delicious, moist steaks, ribs and ribs and offal, which angered the god immensely, though you have to wonder how the sighted man did. All can be deceived. However, it was magical to stand by the scattered ruins of the amphitheater and consider the paradox. Because it may well be the place where Zeus asked Prometheus to fashion the first human from clay. The Greeks had several versions of the human race, but this may be where it all started. At least, that’s what people who happen to live in this particular place like to affirm. Other versions available…

During my most recent visit to Greece, I sought hope. Specifically, I think I can trace the soul of Hope, who is trapped in Pandora’s jar (it was never a box). Perhaps it happened here too, in Sicyon, when the beautiful Pandora opened her jar, a gift from Zeus to mankind (“don’t open it”), and all the horrors of the world. the world has disappeared. Only Hope remains. Up to that time there was no disease, hunger or war… and now look at us. They say Hope has been left behind as a consolation for the loss of our innocent paradise, although others have wondered if Hope was the cruelest punishment for all of them. or not. They see it as a vain hope that keeps us from taking responsibility for our own lives.

Even so, in the first year of Covid, and with so much of the world exploding, I went to Greece, looking for hope. My journey has taken me across this radiant land, with its magical beaches and pine forests and inevitable salads. What myths, I wonder, might offer a solution to our current predicament… the sins of Erysichthon… our inexplicable hunger for more? I even consulted Oracle at Delphi. I wonder where can I find Pandora’s Hope? Greece is a land steeped in myths. Although it is true that it was the brave and inspirational people I met, many of whom are still alive today, who gave me the answer.

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A Thing of Beauty: Travel in mythical and modern Greeceby Peter Fiennes, published in the US by Oneworld Publications on November 30, 2021.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/these-places-from-greek-mythology-still-existand-you-can-visit?source=articles&via=rss These places from Greek mythology still exist — and you can visit

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