The Essence of Greece
“The people of this country knew how to inhabit and demarcate the world against the barbarous in honour of the seat of the gods …they knew how to praise what is great and by acknowledging it, to bring themselves in front of the sublime, founding, in this way, a world”.
Martin Heidegger, ‘Sojourns‘, 1962
Greece is a treasure-trove, evoking millennia of myths, legends and feats of civilisation, history and nature. It is renowned internationally for its beaches, its gentle climate, its light but hearty cuisine and its friendly and vibrant society.
Yet, there is another side to Greece : the intangible one. I call it Harmony and Inspiration. This is the essence of Classical Greece itself and cannot be built, organised, measured or exchanged ; it can only be experienced by the receptive traveller.
This essence, which I believe has also inspired Classical Greece with the concepts and faculties of Democracy, Astronomy, Geometry and Philosophy (*), can only be distilled from living in and from feeling the benevolent influence of this magical country.
The best way to experience the Essence of Greece is to tread off the beaten path, with a receptive frame of mind. Be ready for the messages carried by the salty fragrance of the Aegean breeze, seek out the lonely, minuscule shrine on the remote mountain-side, accept the invitation for a simple meal under the olive tree by the friendly elderly peasant couple. Be ready to toil on the rocky, lofty mountain range but also to wander on the thyme-covered, beckoning hillock. Wake up early so as not to miss the rising sun reflected on our sea, its waves and ripples shining back the light and playfully synthesising a zillion small dawns which will light your mind.
It is only then, through this mosaic of such simple yet rich experiences, that the Essence of Greece will slowly come out and welcome you.
I have been travelling in Greece since my early teens and I am always touched and inspired, as if it was the first time, by the deep feeling of this country. I have tried to capture some of it on film, but what can be seen from the pictures only conveys a minuscule proportion of what can actually be experienced.
(*) Democracy, Astronomy, Geometry and Philosophy: All four words are Ancient Greek.
- Democracy from Demos (Town) and Cratos (Rule) = Rule of the People
- Astronomy from Astir (Star) and Nomos (Law) = Laws of the Stars
- Geometry from Ge (Earth) and Metron (to measure) = Measuring the Earth (initially for building and property purposes, then becoming more abstract).
Philosophy from Philos (Friend) and Sophia (Wisdom).