Recently, a dear friend was kind enough to take me to see the remains of an 8th century BC settlement at Emporio, Chios.
For as long as I can remember, I have been going to the harbor and beach there with my family. Many times, I’d noticed a placard identifying it as the site of a temple to Athena, but we had never visited it.
I had no idea that not only is there a temple; there is an acropolis with protective walls, storage rooms, and homes that were built from stones found on site. They blend so thoroughly into the landscape that unless you are looking very carefully, you might not even notice they are there.
We spent a couple of hours exploring the site, taking in the view, marveling at the poignant simplicity of the design, how it made itself one with what the natural world had to offer. It provoked me to think about a concept that comes up often in Greek mythology but may seem elusive for us moderns: the idea of immortals working through heroes, and heroes aligning their wills with those of the immortals. The design of the site provided the perfect setting to experience this idea through the natural world, to see nature as simultaneously, potentially, benevolent and sinister, and to perceive the importance of both shaping nature and submitting to its uncontrollable power.
I would welcome any related thoughts, experiences, and/or recommendations in the comments…