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Friday, May 08, 2009

RETRACING OLD FOOTSTEPS


I'm heading back to Athens on June 1 and I'm so excited because this is my second home. I first began visiting Greece in 1979, landing first in northern Greece, Macedonia. I was working on my Celtic novel at the time and was tracing Olwen's footsteps as well as doing research about my historical hero, Alexander the Great.

How did Olwen get to Greece from the Salisbury Plain in England? Well, she was kidnapped by a renegade chief's son after she had witnessed him murder his favored younger brother. He left the country with her and made his way across northern Europe. When he heard about the young King of Macedon who was recruiting men for his army to invade Asia Minor and kick the Persians out, he goes with other Celtic chieftains to offer his services. They were turned down by Alexander, because he thought them too barbarian. Olwen is rescued from her captor by Alexander when he comes across them in the forest while he's on a hunt. Thus began her life in Greece and my connection with Greece too.


Besides going back to visit my many friends there, I am celebrating my Big Birthday in Athens on June 6. We have called it The Assembly of 2009, because we are having the sunset picnic party on the Hill of the Nymphs. I had another birthday there two years ago and it has been the scene of many sunset picnics in the past.

The three Hills of the Muses, Pnyx and the Nymphs are the scene of several battles including Theseus against the Amazons. After the Persian wars the Hills were incorporated into the City which was encircled by the Themistoclean Walls and played a defensive role when Kimon and Pericles built the Phalerian Wall and Long Walls (mid 5th c) that connected Athens with it's harbors at Phaliron and Pireaus. Two important demes were developed, that of Melite and Koile. The Assembly met on the flat area of the Hill of the Nymphs and the Pnyx. Some of the famous statesmen and generals of ancient Athens had their homes there.

When I went to live in Athens in 1983 I first lived in Koukaki but the following summer I got a beautiful little flat in the basement of this house at #14 Vironos St. (Byron's St.) I spent several happy years living here, enjoying Kyria Dina's lovely courtyard and sharing space with my dear friend Roberto who lived in the little house out back. Every time I go back to Athens I pass by and look into the courtyard and touch the gate, with loving memories of those times and friends now gone. Kyria Dina's husband was unfortunately killed in a hit-and-run accident on a country road a few years ago, and my friend Roberto died of cancer. But this house will always hold special memories for me and I often think of it, and wish I was back there, snug in my little downstairs rooms where I was writing my novel and travel stories and enjoying the life.


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2 comments:

workhard said...

Greece must have been such an experience..

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Wynn Bexton said...

Definitely my second home.