Posted by: Joseph J. Skarzenski | July 10, 2009

Just a little “down time”

Students at the Benaki museum

Students at the Benaki museum

After a pleasant evening in downtown Athens–where some students ate a home-cooked meal in the Yperidou building–JTG students were off to class in the morning. Today in class students were given an impromptu writing assignment. Asked to give a paragraph description of a difference they have seen in Greek culture compared to life back in the United States and also to provide their own definition of Greek identity, students began writing their responses before today’s lesson.

Viewing some of the ancient pottery on the ground floor of the museum

Viewing some of the ancient pottery on the ground floor of the museum

Dr. Dimitriou lectured today about some of the past influences of Greece’s present culture and identity. We spent the majority of the time learning about how Classical traditions affected the Greek culture we know today. This topic began with some of the superstitions people of ancient Greece had. The talking point continued with art and architecture, and some of the themes that have constantly run through Greece’s history. Dr. Dimitriou provided some examples of these themes by examining the freeze of the Parthenon, which displays man’s constant struggle in life. While speaking about the Classical period, the subjects of food and wine, education, philosophy, and language were also discussed.

We moved on to the influences of the Byzantine period for a brief amount of time. Before class ended, we learned about the differences between Byzantine and Classical art. After discussing some of the uniformity of iconography, the topics of Roman administration and Code of Laws arose. Getting a general understanding of what society was like during this period really helped students see some of the transformations that occurred in Greek identity.

Some of the exhibits on the floor featuring pieces from modern Greek history.

Some of the exhibits on the floor featuring pieces from modern Greek history.

By 2:45 PM we were back at school to start our visit to the Benaki museum. We walked through Syntagma Square and past the Parliament building, making our way to the former Benakis family mansion. The first floor of the museum featured a huge variety of ancient Greek pottery and art. Moving our way up, the second floor included a fantastic iconography exhibit. Students took pictures of a variety of icons while listening to our guided tour. The third floor featured a mix of art and authentic Greek folk costumes. The galleries provided much insight to Greek folk culture. The best area of the entire museum had to be the top floor, which included weaponry, art, photographs, and clothing from the Greek War of Independence. The pieces also displayed items from other parts of modern Greek history, such as the country’s involvement in World War I.

From the museum we headed back to the apartments. Some of us went to Glyfada for the night to watch a movie in the best part of the city.

Unfortunately, we did not attend the Dora Stratou performance tonight. Our tickets were actually scheduled for next Tuesday, so students have another event to look forward to next week! Tomorrow we have class in the morning and will continue our day with a visit to Sounio.

Photos from today’s visit to the Benaki museum can be seen by clicking the link below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39885149@N06/sets/72157621066050951/show/

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