Letter Home (with apologies to Byron)

Dear M.

This voyage to Greece has been quite remarkable, and we wanted to relay some of the more interesting events to you.  We found that Delphi, now as in antiquity, is not only one of the most beautiful and Treasurey at Delphi

dramatic of shrines, but also still harbors cult activity.  In fact, our entire company underwent initiation into a mystery cult there.  This involved washing our hands at the Castalian springs, and being accompanied by someone who spoke intelligibly (i.e. Greek), but beyond that, none of us can reveal details.  It is, after all, a mystery cult.  And there were other mysterious happenings.  Shortly after our initiation, while visiting Arachova, we were swept off our feet and into Dionysian revels by a group of ancient Maenads!  Finally, Lindsey initiated the entire group into another cult at the temple of Artemis Orthia in Sparta. Apparently, this rite originally involved young boys trying to steal cheese under the watchful gaze of a priestess, but somehow we reversed it, with the women in our group trying to steal an orange, as Prof. Richter in the role of priestess refereed, and our true priestess, Prof. Salowey captured it on video.


Some members of our party have specialized in athletic prowess. Christy briefly became a pan-Hellenic champion, having won three footraces—one at Olympia and two at Delphi.  But when the officials learned she had also tried to drive off with our bus at Delphi, she was disqualified.  Brynn earned honors that were not revoked when she conquered the 790–some steps to the peak of the Castro at Naupflion in record time.  Laura holds the urban ascent record for her mastery of theAthens subway stairs. And Becca will be awarded a wreath for the most distinctive and infectious laugh.

Most of our group have fallen in love with Greek food.  Ashley is one of these, but for some reason whenever she orders bread in tavernas, waiters become embarrassed or ask her out.  We don’t really understand.  And Stephanie has fallen so in love with those beans the Greeks call gigantes, that we were afraid she might get arrested trying to smuggle a crate of them home. Athens Meat Market Lunch
Even Emileigh Clare seems fond of the food, despite having been chased through the Athens Meat Market by a butcher wielding a severed, skinned lamb’s head.  Everyone in the group has been purchasing dried tsai tou vounou, the Greek mountain tea, so they can make it when they get home, and everyone seems to love the olives and olive oil—not surprising, since, as Emily Mendelssohn points out, in a country of about 11 million people, there are 120 million olive trees.

Meantime, Michelle and Jenny have truly gone native, developing great proficiency on the Komboloi. On prolonged bus trips we can hear their beads click-clacking constantly.  And if we are all fascinated by things Greek, the Greeks are all fascinated by Meritha’s red hair.

In one of our few unpleasant events, Sam and a few others were bamboozled by a group of unscrupulous grocery store gypsies in Dimitsana.  We confronted the gypsies, but could not get the money back.  In another tight spot later, we were all truly grateful to discover that Emily Morris has excellent aim.  Her sure marksmanship saved the entire bus from an unpleasant situation that it is best not to speak more of.Regarding other members of our party, Liz has chronicled our adventures in blank verse worthy of Homer.  And Kristen, ever the stellar explorer, is investigating not only ancient astronomy, but also, always “the roads less traveled” as we make our trek.

In the end, it seems we have all been enchanted.  Some of us, quite frankly, may not return home.  And

hose of us who do will leave something of our hearts behind, even as this land called
Hellas, with its landscape of ancient ruins and modern wonders, sage, goats and marble, and its tradition of hospitality, leaves something in our souls.

Ever yours
T & C


2 responses to “Letter Home (with apologies to Byron)

  1. Interesting that you should mention Byron. I’m working on a book about myth and “forbidden knowledge” and currently writing about Byron’s death at Mesolonghi in 1924. How he did love Greece.

    I also very much loved Delphi, but the Castilian Spring was closed for renovation when I was there. The view of the site from just above the theatre is one of the most glorious on this planet.

    While my ten weeks of traveling about Greece, I did have some strange cult-like experiences. Hermes is the protector of travelers, and I felt his presence many times. I’ve documented it in an essay called “Encountering Hermes”. If you’re interested you can read it on my website.

    I have absolutely loved following you about Greece through your blog. Thank you so much for doing this and letting me know about it, Elizabeth.

    David Sheppard
    Oedipus on a Pale Horse
    Tragedy’s Workshop

  2. lol lol lol. FAIL!

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