Monday, April 26, 2010

the breath in the marble

Housed in the stunning National Archaeological Museum of Athens, are dozens of faces I've known for decades, but never met. I am familiar with the creases and lines of Agamemnon's golden mask— I once played the goddess Athena when I was twelve in a play about the tragic hero. I know every curve of every muscle in the tensed body of Zeus (or Poseidon— his identity is not known for certain). I have smiled back at the curled lips of Kouros and Kore, and stared into the black eyes of Augustus. Finally, I get to stand beside them, breath held in wonder.

One of the things I love most about Ancient Greek mythology is that the heroes and gods are flawed, imperfect— they suffered fears and falls, love and loss. They were human. When I look at the expression of the faces, hands and spines of these sculptures, I feel the blood in their hearts, the breath in their lungs. Every unique wrinkle in a forehead, that soft individual bend of the mouth— all so alive, so human. Perhaps every sculptor was a Pygmalion, falling for his creation, carving and chiseling with love, the pulse into cold stone. I look into these faces and I see the person; their suffering, their joy, I think of the hands that captured the person, and I feel connected.


Javier de Blas said...

What a fantastic museum. Makes you vibrate from your roots. Is it there where this incredible Cheramics collection is? One feels missing the air when you're surrounded by such intelligence and balance.

szaza said...

Hi Javier!
Yes, there were exquisite ceramics and a lovely jewellery collection too. Absolutely one of the most enjoyable museums I have been to lately!