A walk at dusk can be very revealing… The shadows begin their ancient dance, angles become softer and blurred, people loosen up. Couples move closer, voices turn to whispers, glances become more daring. Families meet, ladies and gents perfect their skills on *social criticism* about everything and everyone. Needless to say, on top of the *agenda* lie side by side the sinful bedfellows, Crisis and Politics, on which everybody seems to have recently acquired a master’s degree. Children babble, street vendors sell handmade (often on the spot) jewellery and whatnots, others bring them all the way from China, street musicians entertain… a full range of repertories to please everyone…
… all this and more, happens every evening in Dionysiou Areopagitou, a cobbled street specifically designed and pedestrianized to connect the archaeological sites around Acropolis.
Here is where stepping in ancestral steps may bring you one evening:
On Areios Pagos, the Rock of Justice: initially the council of the elders, it became the highest court of Athens, trying prosecutions for unconstitutional acts and, later, cases of murder. The modern Greek Supreme Court is still called Areios Pagos. The rock is now a short climb to one of the most romantic places in Athens. Acropolis, glorious at dusk, is just part of the 360° amazing view.
Even in the hottest of summer days, a slight cool breeze is always blowing here after sunset. Surely, it is no coincidence that our wise(r) ancestors built, a few steps down the hill, next to the Roman Agora, The Tower of the Winds. Its eight sides face a point of the compass and are decorated with a frieze depicting the eight Greek wind deities: Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Euros (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notos (S), Livas (SW), Zephyros and Skiron (NW). Below the frieze there are eight sundials and in its interior there used to be a water clock (or ”clepsydra”), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis.
Boreas, was strong and violent, the god of the cold, north wind and the bringer of winter. His name meant ”North Wind” or ”Devouring One”.
Kaikias, was the deity of the north-east wind. He is shown as a bearded man with a shield full of hailstones, and his name derives from the Greek word ”kakia” meaning ”badness’‘ or ”evil”.
Apeliotes, was the deity of the south-east wind, bringing refreshing rains, particularly beneficial to farmers. He is often depicted carrying fruit, flowers or grain.
Euros, the east wind that brought heavy clouds.
Notos, the south wind was thought to bring the storms of late summer and autumn. He was feared as a destroyer of crops, and depicted with water pouring from his pitcher.
Lips (or Livas) was the deity of the south-west wind. He was often portrayed as a young man holding a ship’s sternpost, because the Livas blew straight into the harbour of Piraeus, preventing ships from sailing.
Zephyros was the Greek god of the west wind. The gentlest of the winds, Zephyros was the messenger of spring, with flowers signifying a mild light breeze.
Skiron is depicted as a bearded man tilting a cauldron, indicating that the north-west wind dries up vegetation and represents the onset of winter.
The tower earlier in the day. I think those visible are Boreas, Kaikias and Skiron. The kitty that made her bed on the stone has excellent taste…
The Hill of the Muses later renamed Philopappos Hill, after a monument built in honour of the Roman senator, Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos…
Athens, 3-6 June 2013
Photos by Konstantinos Implikian
… to be continued …