There was barbarism, then there was the Parthenon, and then there was barbarism again. Not until the first decade of the Cinquecento and the most mature works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael did the world achieve such works of genius. Then Julius II assigned the walls of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican to the twenty eight year old Raphael who conceived and painted The School of Athens--half a hundred figures summing up the rich centuries of Greek thought, and all gathered in an immortal moment under the coffered arch of a massive pagan portico. There, on the wall directly facing the apotheosis of theology in the Disputa, is the glorification of philosophy:
Plato of the Jovelike brow, deep eyes, flowing white hair and beard with a finger pointing upward to his perfect state; Aristotle walking quietly beside him, thirty years younger, handsome and cheerful, holding out his hand with downward palm, as if to bring his master's soaring idealism back to earth and the possible; Socrates counting out his arguments on his fingers, with armed Alcibiades listening to him lovingly; Pythagoras trying to imprison in harmonic tables the music of the spheres; a fair lady who might be Aspasia; Heraclitus writing Ephesian riddles; Diogenes lying carelessly disrobed on the marble steps; Archimedes drawing geometries on a slate for four absorbed youths; Ptolemy and Zoroaster bandying globes; a boy at the left running up eagerly with books, surely seeking an autograph; an assidious lad seated in a corner taking notes; peeking out at the left, little Federigo of Mantua, Isabella's son and Julius' pet; Bramante; and Raphael himself now spouting a mustache. There are many more, about whose identity leisurely pundits dispute; all in all, such a parliament of wisdom had never been painted, perhaps never been conceived before.
My first opportunity was May of 1985 when I rode a tour bus for a nine day touch and go to visit Athens, the Peloponnese, Delphi, Thebes and Marathon. Four troubled years later I toughened myself for riding my bicycle 80 miles a day through mountainous terrain; filled my paniers with light weight clothing, a small tent, and a sleeping bag; and wrapped my video camera in multiple layers of bubble wrap for a three week slow ride through the same areas. I returned in 1991 for a two week walk around Crete and a two day climb to the summit of Mt. Olympus, Greece's highest mountain. In November of 1995, I rode a tour bus for two weeks to visit Turkey for too little time in ancient Galatia, Cappadocia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Lycia, Caria, Lydia, Mysia, and Thrace. Finally I returned in 1998 to wander again through Athens and Delphi before boarding a great cruise ship in Pireaus to make stops in Mykonos, Naxos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.
My routes are mapped below and the journals can be accessed by the buttons on the left. When you reach the journals, clicking any of the thumbnails will enable an enlargement of the image and an opportunity to go forward or backward through all of the images.
A Classical Bike Ride in 1989
Backpacking Crete in 1991
Mt. Olympus 1991
Greek Islands 1998
Images of Greece 1989