History Alive

Panting and sweaty, I try my hardest to refrain from collapsing upon the ancient marble of the Propylaea, a great marble gateway. I’ve climbed the steps to the Acropolis, the centre of Athens, and it’s tallest point. My cheek resting on the marble stair, I look up and see the great Parthenon towering before me. I can survey the whole of Athens below me, all points visible to my eye.

My omniscient eye focuses on the district of our hostel, the Plaka. It is bustling, full of tourists and small shops, but my piercing vision can see through the crowd, into the deep and foggy past. I can see a man, an important man, wearing rich garments. The noble statesman Cleisthenes sits focused, deep in thought. He is writing out a plan to create a directly democratic system in Athens. He is the Cleisthenes that historians refer to as the Father of Democracy. In this very place, a stall selling fridge magnets and cheap sunglasses makes business.

My keen sight shifts to the ancient Agora of Athens, where a group of Athenian youth are gathering. Amongst them is the philosopher Socrates, conversing with a throng of local merchants. His experiences in this early part of his life will shape the way he thinks and teaches later in life, and therefore change all of western society. What he learns by questioning the public will lead him to become the Father of Western Philosophy, and a teacher of many great people, such as Plato, Xenophon, and Antisthenes.

A great roar brings my seraphic eye to attention. Powers are stirring in the Acropolis, powers far greater than my divine sight. Searching the hill, two blinding figures show themselves before me, resembling stars descended upon earth. Between them stands a gash in the floor, a fountain of water erupting from it; and a tree, an olive tree. Around them stands a group of richly dressed mortals, their wealth and power diminished in the face of divine might. I recognise the scene, it is depicted on the Parthenon; these great figures are the gods Poseidon and Athena. They are presenting gifts for the city of Athens. The mortals inspect the spring and the tree, and they choose the god Athena as their patron. From this point onwards, the city will be named Athens, and its people will be Athenians. The god Poseidon leaves in a haughty tantrum, a childlike rage made formidable with his great power. A high pitched whistling sounds through my mind, creating great ripples in my vision, the fog of time I had been probing is growing thicker, and I feel myself departing.

I awake on the cold marble floor, thoroughly dazed and confused. A woman is shouting at me in Greek, blowing a piercing whistle at the top of her lungs. She yells in broken English “Don’t touch the marble!” and I begrudgingly crawl, at a snail’s pace, to the rocky ground. She is giving me a predatory stare as I move away from the Propylaea. In a daze, I meander down the mountain, struggling to recount the details of my dream. It could probably make a good blog post!

Written By: William Vovers


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