Strategic consideration

Strategic consideration

The wild card of ancient Greek military planning was the existence and randomness of divine intervention. You never knew which god was backing your enemy, or when or how they might suddenly rouse themselves in wrath and take destructive action against you. Hence, the...
The lobsters of Skopelos

The lobsters of Skopelos

Hyperbole, nothing like it when suitably blatant, creative and outrageous. You couldn’t possibly eat one of these, only engage them in a civilized conversation about world affairs, or in a game of chess.See, from the same book, a similarly improbable yet...
Of wine-blue water

Of wine-blue water

The first time I read of the wine-blue Greek sea, I was baffled.  However, I took a second translation to read in Mykonos. Sitting one morning in a blindingly white sunlit courtyard, I cooled my eyes by looking at the sea and suddenly realized what...
Mamma turns up

Mamma turns up

A few signals to keep an eye out for so you don’t miss the moment a god may show up: it could be aural, olfactory, visual or just a change in temperature.  In this case it was the perfume of oceanic lavender that first hinted at the arrival of a goddess-mother,...
Helot-haunted lowlands

Helot-haunted lowlands

Helots were the serfs of ancient Sparta, from the town of Laconia and only a notch above slaves. They were sometimes induced to appear drunkenly before the youths of Sparta in order to put these respectable kids off getting trashed.  An interesting approach, wonder if...
Cormorant-haunted castle

Cormorant-haunted castle

An abandoned fortress, occupied only by cormorants.  No wonder, the human inhabitants probably fled an atmosphere described as the ‘architecture of hatred’. ‘The great storm beaten and cormorant-haunted castle at Coroni as “the architecture of...
Not yet fully formed

Not yet fully formed

A wonderful comment by Zorba regarding the mental development of his boss.  Not, perhaps, a line to try on your own boss, however true it may seem. See also his equally crushing comment on his boss’s behaviour towards the workers.   “I hope you don’t mind...
Career choices

Career choices

Here Zorba points out the choices his boss has to make, since you can’t prattle about socialism and be a capitalist at the same time, or at least not without some hypocrisy. See him also put his boss in his place as far as mental development is concerned. “Look...
Pard-like stubble

Pard-like stubble

I can only imagine this refers to a patchy or spotted colour combination, as ‘pard’ means leopard or panther, or another animal resembling either. ‘Perhaps this permanent pard-like stubble …’ Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in...
Home sweet home

Home sweet home

In Patrick Leigh Fermor’s telling of it, the Mani region of Greece comprises two harsh elements: searing sunlight and endless stoniness.  Here, a Maniot sums it up with what appears to be characteristic pithiness. “When God had finished making the world,...
A load of old bull

A load of old bull

Here Patrick Leigh Fermor tests the veracity of a much touted myth about Maniots in the Peloponnese being bull wrestlers.  I liked the progressive debunking of the myth, starting out with simple denial, then embellished with further evidence, all the way down to a tin...
Flask-wielding host

Flask-wielding host

Despite the manifest hospitality, the flask-wielding host sounds like a walking health hazard.  However, by the time you succumb to his antimicrobial prescriptions, you may be past caring, given how great you’ll feel. Regardless, I wish you optimism, vigour and...
News, any news

News, any news

I loved this eager old man stuck up a mountain, starved of company, starved of news.  And in the age of fake news, his closing clause made me laugh. ‘Once near the top of Mt. Kedros in Crete, a white-bearded old shepherd had shouted to my guide and me to join...
Horse-taming Argos

Horse-taming Argos

Leigh Fermor echoes the hundreds of Homeric triologisms, many attributing this or that characteristic to one or another Greek city or state.  Here the Argives are associated with horse-taming. Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese,...

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