Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Two colleagues from Michigan Tech came to visit me: Dean Christa Walck of our School of Business and Economics and Prof. Kim Hoagland, our architectural historian. I met up with them in Greece first. I had been to Athens, so they came early to look around there (and want to go back, of course). They favored me with a strange quest by going to Pylos on the western side of the Peloponnese, on the coast. I wanted to go there to see the island of Sfakteria (various spellings) in the Pylos area. This is where the Athenians managed to defeat the Spartans on land in the 7th year of the Peloponnesian War; later Thucydides tells the story of how the Spartans defeated the Athenians on the sea. Anyway, the Athenians took a Spartan shield from this adventure and it is on display in a museum in Athens (I vaguely recall it was in the museum near the Agora).
On our way back to Athens we stopped at Mistral, the remarkable remains of a Byzantine city that overlooks the plains of Sparta. Being there gave me a sense of the Byzantine times and an excellent understanding of what the Spartan home looked like--a large flat plain created from their river, with huge mountains on three sides. No wonder they loved it and no wonder they were able to defend it against other Greeks for centuries.
We visited Mycenae on our way to Pylos. Everyone should put it on their "life list" of places to visit, right along with Athens. I wish we'd had time to go to Delphi, which is also a very remarkable place.
Photos are of Mycenae.