National Geographic : 1930 Dec
NEW GREECE, THE CENTENARIAN, FORGES AHEAD the slopes of Parnassus zigzags the road until Kastri is reached. This village dates from 1892, when the French excavators, searching for the secrets of Delphi, moved the whole encumbering village around the slope, just as American archeologists will soon move a considerable section of Athens. "PROMETHEUS BOUND" IN A CLASSIC SETTING Properly to appreciate the home of Apollo and the Oracle, one must get into the spirit of the place. The Delphic Fes tival of 1930 made this possible. While dining with the hundreds of amateur ac tors, I noted with what intellectual fresh ness these joyous folk greeted one another in parody verses in the Aeschylan meter. At the rehearsals I saw Power and Force, blinded by tragic masks and made haughty by the stiltlike cothurnus, fall to their knees and Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, arrive all out of breath, having mislaid his winged helmet. Girls who were to be Oceanids fumbled their lines, squealed when the pebbles of the theater bruised their bare knees, chattered against the splendid musical background, and gen erally cluttered up the orchestra. But all that was forgotten when the real play began. Aristophanes might picture Euripides banting the corpulent muse of Aeschylus, or weighing his tragedy in the steelyards, but those pompous sentences, spoken by a defiant Prometheus and echoed by the age-old cliffs, had a majesty befit ting the scene (see Color Plates XVII to XXIV). When Delphi was in its heyday, dele gates from rival States here met in a truce. The directors of the Delphic Fes tival hope to gather kindred spirits from the world over, and here cement a brother hood whose members will spread peace and good will afar. A HAND LOOM RECAPTURED THE CURVES OF CLASSIC DRESS Every effort was made at the Centenary Festival to achieve accuracy of dress and armor. Mme. Eva Palmer Sikelianos, American by birth, worked for many years until she succeeded in weaving silken fab rics which would fall into the lovely folds of the ancient Greek sculptures, and fash ioned other cloth which would have the stiffness of Egyptian art. When the Mace donian warriors returned from their mimic warfare in the Pythian games (see Color Plates XVIII and XX) more than one head bore the imprint of the heavy hel mets faithfully copied in copper from clas sic models. Native handicrafts were exhibited. Ath letic contests were held. Peasants whirled in native dances. Pipes squealed and tom toms boomed. Through the dark streets of the town Parnassian shepherd and city lass tripped the evening hours away. For a fortnight the storied slopes of Par nassus regained their youth. An Oceanid coming home from the theater at twilight seemed a mountain nymph or a wood sprite. Well-muscled youths, dressed in classic tunics, ran along the grassy hill sides or sat about their tents singing songs. THE GLORY OF GREECE IS NOT DEAD I lived in a peasant home. Look into the faces of my hostesses and tell me that those happy, hectic days at Delphi were in vain! Where the Oracle had uttered am biguities, the living folk were positive in their friendliness (see Color Plate XV). It is this friendliness which remains as my most vivid impression of Greece. I know the curiosity, the familiarity, the in sistence of the Greek. A hundred times I have inwardly fumed at seemingly sense less irritations; but from the returned Greek-American to the upcountry peas ants or Vlach shepherds, who know no other land, the living residents give the Greece of to-day such appeal for the modern guest as classic Greece had for the scholar. The glory of Greece has not departed. No child of Hellas is called Ichabod. On motor road and mountain trail even the hurried traveler still senses that Hellas is a land set apart, that something blessed still permeates the atmosphere of this rocky little land whose life to-day, as yesterday, is so intimately connected with our own.