Monday, August 31, 2015

Building on the Past

Among the Greeks' many claims to fame are their innovations in architecture. Aside from those few whose thoughts immediately turn to golden men holding trumpets, the word "temple" generally invokes an image of rows of columns.

Something kinda like this
"Segesta"  -

Although such an image is stereotypical, the Greeks actually had a wide range of architectural design. Everything from their rivalries to the materials available contributed to the structure of each temple or monument. A more lengthy description can be found here.

Like the Greeks of old, the quest to create continues in our day. Although their goal was to impress their Gods, some modern builders (such as myself) aim to impress a much smaller demographic. An inch-tall demographic.

My monument to Zeus

How Greek is your family?

Image result for stick figure family of 5

While living in Hong Kong, I was amused at the looks I got from the locals whenever I pulled out my family picture to introduce myself.  In a culture where parents typically choose to have one or two children, the sight of a family of twelve left astonishment etched on their faces.  Nevertheless, it was easy to see in my various interactions with the Chinese that they have a culture were family tradition is at the core.  The Greeks?

In this article, Eric D. Bernholc shows how by examining Greek literature we see that family has been an important part of Greek culture since ancient times.  However, in the examples I researched, there didn't always seem to be "love at home".  For instance, the story of Tantalus, the son of Zeus.  Although just a mere mortal, he was permitted to eat the food of the gods.  However, he lost his good standing when he killed his only son and tried to feed him to the gods.  He was later punished severely for his brutality.  

The vibe I got from my readings was that family is an important element in Greek culture, but not necessarily something that was cherished or celebrated.  

Meat was for Savages

According to this blog on "How to Eat like a Greek", (in case you were ever wondering how to do that), it gives a brief historical background on the diet of the day in Ancient Grecian times. Bread and wine were staples, but meat was associated with barbarians and hunter-gatherers, and not of the more sophisticated in the society. This was because all they could do was savagely hunt for and kill their food, instead of farming and working the land and "transforming nature."

I found this blog and article to be particularly interesting. I, for one, consider myself to be a bit of a carnivore. I love to eat healthy and have a well balanced diet, but let's just say I don't think I could ever be a vegetarian. I love me a good piece of steak, or being from the South, a good piece of fried chicken. I look at how much meat we consume as a society.  I add to this statistic, being a meat-lover. You can run through a drive-thru and buy burger, after burger, after chicken sandwich, after burger. It's so easy. Does that make us all savages?

And the Word of Wisdom. We know that the beasts of the land are for our use and for our nourishment, but even the Word of Wisdom says to eat meats sparingly. Have we abused that in this day and age? As much as I love a good cheeseburger, when I think of the Wing King challenge (eat 50 buffalo chicken wings in 30 minutes) or the 72 oz steak Man vs. Food challenge I can't help but think of a barbarian shoveling as much food as he can down his throat because he doesn't know when he's going to eat next.

Maybe we should all take a lesson from our alternative vegan/vegetarian friend we all know and go a little more green.

(Sorry, this is not a picture of me.) 

(But this is. And my husband.) 

What A Relief!

I consider myself neither artist nor history buff, but my sole connection to Grecian history might prove the contrary.

I'm actually decent at Bas Relief! To create it, a sculptor begins with a flat portion of raw material and chisels, carves, or sands away portions until they "uncover" the sculpture beneath. While not invented by the Greeks, many argue that they were "the first to realize [its] true potential."

Here's where I wish I had a picture of me, late at night, chisel in hand, coated in marble dust... Unfortunately for you and I, marble isn't my medium of choice.
...Okay, I just carve pumpkins, and it's actually more similar to the "Intaglio Relief" found on ancient pottery of the area, but hey- relief is relief.

The Ancient Greeks found beauty in eternalizing temporary moments, hence the use of marble as a medium; however, I appreciate that my carvings are, typically, as fleeting as their subjects.  It reminds me of how important it is to look for and create beauty in today's world because, no matter how much there's been, the world will always need more.

Jiu-Jitsu: Brazilian or Greek?

My fiancee Maya and I acting tough

If you ask people how they like to spend their Saturday mornings, most will say sleeping in, playing soccer, watching Netflix, or reading a book. For me, I can't think of a better Saturday activity than getting choked out, punched in the face, and beat up.

When I began training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA over a year ago, I never considered its ancient Greek heritage. The amazing sport the world calls Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu hasn't always been so Brazilian. In fact, Jiu-Jitsu is likely to have descended from the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. 

The best candidate for the direct ancestor of Jiu-Jitsu within these ancient competitions was Pankration, one of the most popular sports in the entire event. Pankration was a sport that combined boxing and wrestling techniques into a hybrid fighting style, very similar to MMA (mixed martial arts) and UFC you can watch on pay-per-view today. Although the medium in which we view the fighting has developed drastically, men and women unknowingly train in the ancient art of Pankration for the entertainment of the masses. 

What sports do you enjoy that have descended from the Greeks?

Click here for the History of Jiu-Jitsu

It's a Tragedy Sophicles Lived So Long Ago

     One of the great literary innovators of his time, Sophicles rocked his contemporaries' concept of Greek tragedy by adding a revolutionary third character to his theatrical works.  While this may seem like a small change compared to the dramatic (no pun intended) variations we see in plays and musicals today, Sophicles' decision reflected a spirit of identifying and questioning underlying assumptions that I see in myself.

      Sometimes the pieces of life that are the most obvious to us are the ones that call for the greatest reflection and examination.  I wonder what aspects of my life Sophicles would most deeply question if he were alive today.

If you are as interested as I am about Sophicles' life and works, you can learn more about him here.

Souvlaki: That's the World's First Dish

After some brief research of the Greek souvlaki, I discovered that it was much more familiar to me than I had originally thought. Apparently, souvlaki is just like tacos! And I do love tacos. But I just wrote about souvlaki because Dr. Burton dared me.