Delphi: the Navel of the Ancient World
Delphi was referred to as the "navel" of the world by ancient Greeks because they believed that it was so beautiful that all of the earth's beauty must have been been absorbed there from outside forces and then spread out across the globe. It's the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. We arrived in the late afternoon after our visits to the monasteries. There is a local restaurant there that our professors, Dr. Ringer and Rob Dutiel, eat at every time they do this trip. Their description of the lamb dish that they get every time may have been the final straw in getting me to want to take this class, and it lived up to every expectation.
We spent our full day with our tour guide, Penny, who has been guiding Marymount Manhattan groups since our first year doing this trip. She told us that the first year she met MMC students, she was surprised by the fact that we answered her rhetorical questions. She said that our students knew more about Greek history than many of the local groups that come in, and, as a result she challenged herself to improve the tour for the next MMC group to come through - every year she tailors the experience more and more to our in-class learning - she's read more Greek plays because of us!
Her guidance through the museum was unmatched - Penny took so much care with us and had so much passion for what she was teaching. It all hit home when we walked up from the archeological museum to the ruins of the acropolis and it's surrounding agora and other public centers - including an arena and a theatre. I was one of a few of us to tear up. I remember talking to a friend, Erin, about just how special it felt to walk in the footsteps of those who are credited with the foundation of western culture - not just the art form that we love, but so much of our daily lives is directly influenced by the history we walked through that day. It was unbelievable.
A cool down at a nearby beach was nothing if not necessary. The high emotions of the day combined with the high altitude and jet lag had all of us craving a bit of a break. I've never laughed as hard as I did over throwing rocks with my peers and professors - I'd try to explain the jokes, but I've realized that you simply had to have been there. I'm genuinely sorry you weren't there to laugh along with us.
That evening, though, somehow managed to top it all. Penny has been working with the town to try to reinstate a theatre and arts festival in Delphi. This year, that came to fruition, and MMC students had the honor of being the first act of the festival. Dr. Ringer recited the beginning of "The Iliad" to start us off, and the following performances of comedic and tragic scenes and monologues are some that I will never forget. I had the privilege of organizing our set of acts. My friend Josh put it best when he said that he was checking off a major bucket list item when he got to perform a scene from "The Bacchae" in front of a real Greek audience, in Greece, hearing his own voice echo off the mountains that have undoubtedly heard those words before - albeit in a different tongue. It is a night (and day) I hope I never forget, to have any work that I got to work even a little bit on grace that space will remain a highlight of my career long past graduation.