Far from the madding crowd.
I don't actually know what that means, having never read it.
I merely mean, we stubbornly keep our distance, and, if we could, we'd wait for them to leave.
It's pleasant, but it's corrupt.
Somehow it seems that all attractions which vie for tourist bucks evolve to resemble Las Vegas. There'll be neon, loud music, large quantities of alcohol. So that these high-traffic sites take on in miniature the atmosphere of Waikiki or Atlantic City or any other tasteless trap you can conjure. It's positively Roman.
Phidias' workshop was identified and excavated in the 1950s; proof of the pudding being a drinking cup inscribed, "I belong to Phidias", now in the museum.
This is where Phidias created one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the ginormous gold-and-ivory statue of seated Zeus which dominated the nearby temple. This clever statue is said to have burst out laughing when Caligula ordered Zeus' head replaced by his own: I like it already.
Tools, moulds, ivory chips, the odd precious stone: and Phidias' cup. The real deal. You stand here shaking your head, because, this really happened.
Except, let's say it out loud, Phidias didn't actually make the thing. He directed its making. A small army of skilled artisan slaves did the work.
Slaves built the Parthenon, slaves dug the silver which funded the Delian League, slaves tilled the fields which fed everyone else. Slaves made the statues and the vases and the columns and the caryatids which we today consider such exemplars of proportion and elegance. Slavery was the source of the surplus value which made the Athenian leisure class possible, and with it the democracy. The society with its artistic and cultural and scientific achievements existed because slavery enabled it.
Americans wear brand tshirts. They walk with their hands in their pockets, on the wrong side of the road.
Thick Alabama accent: "You should have seen it when old Harry ordered a Bud Lite. He stopped every conversation cold."
His wife: "They don't even have condiments. I asked for condiments, they brought me a packet of horseradish dressing."
Visitors on the stones. Tourists, Americans, Swiss, Austrian.
The first time I was here we were hippie students. Penniless, hungry, cold, but also elated, and, from within our imposed vows of poverty, free.
Today we're mostly white-collar professionals, along with busloads of American evangelicals crashing New Testament sites with grumpy countenances and appalling bad manners.
So then what of this would-be caryatid? She seems to belong to A Midsummer Night's Dream. Look also at the seated figure wearing a mask with a pointed nose.
What the fucking fuck?