In Athens

In Athens, transiting.  First visit to Greece, regarded as the “cradle of civilization”.  Slightly chaotic process in the airport.  At school I studied ancient Greek history, with focus on the Persian Wars and Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BC, and the conquests of Alexander.  My grandfather Robert Grant read classical Greek at the University of Queensland before becoming a doctor, and I inherited his copies of Homer and some Latin books through my mother Marie.  I studied Greek philosophy at university, writing essays on Plato, Parmenides and Heraclitus, and on Heidegger’s unique existential analysis of the Greeks.  One challenge I had in this study was that my mother had a strongly feminist approach to philosophy that she passed on to me, with a focus on the theology (or ‘thealogy’) of the Goddess in prehistoric times.  I found this fascinating, and have continued this interest all my life.  For example, I read the wonderful book Black Athena by Martin Bernal, which provides a rigorous critique of the modern school of classics exemplified in nineteenth century Oxford and Cambridge.  The imperial propaganda in classics asserted that culture primarily originated in the west, whereas Bernal shows quite clearly this is wrong, and that much older eastern civilizations including Babylon, India, Assyria and Egypt provided much of the source material for Greek philosophy.  Greece was not the cradle of civilization!  His title Black Athena refers to how the patron goddess of Athens evolved from the Egyptian Goddess Neith.  Comparative mythology is a controversial and esoteric subject, but is immensely important for understanding human identity.  So I have a great interest in counter-cultural scholarship, especially with the evolution of mythology (incidentally a key theme in my father Jim Tulip’s PhD on Shakespeare’s Richard the Third).  Astronomy had a central role in Greek philosophy, and then in the origins of Christianity, but much of this has been forgotten and lost, only surviving in fugitive traces. 

I don’t think I will see the Acropolis from the plane window, as the airport is 30km east of the city.  Now on to Berlin.

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