National Geographic : 1972 Aug
Arts on Paros. "Greeks are naturally musi cal and instinctively like any kind of good music. The ensemble, professionals in resi dence at the school, started giving cafe con certs as an experiment and discovered one of the most appreciative audiences they have ever had." Most of the students are Americans, taking such subjects as painting, photography, writ ing, drama, and classical guitar. Many board with island families and have learned modern Greek very well. Venetian Influence Pervades Naxos Only a few miles of rollicking blue sea separate Paros from Naxos. The early inhabitants of Naxos carved cu rious marble idols that archeologists find in is land graves. The local museum has a wealth of these, with stylized heads and bodies. It was the Naxians who gave holy Delos its famed marble lions and colossal Apollo. The Naxian era that most intrigues me is the Middle Ages, when the history of this one island typified that of the Aegean. The chap ter opened when the Fourth Crusade, deviat ing from its mission of battling Islam, sacked Constantinople and dismantled the sagging Byzantine Empire. Marco Sanudo, a member of a great Vene tian family, took Naxos and others of the Cyclades as his share of the spoils. For much of the next 300 years, the Sanudi and their heirs ruled the island; today the port city of Naxos retains a strong Venetian flavor. Exploring the island of Naxos with my friend Ralph Bates, New York University professor emeritus of literature and a Naxos resident for five years, we came upon a ravine so filled with blooms that the islanders call it the "river of oleanders." All sorts of plants have been imported into the Aegean islands - bougainvillea, cactus, agave-but the ole ander is native. Pleasant valleys, their sides terraced to the last foot, lie among the mountains of the Naxian hinterland (pages 166-7). Roads wind in breathtaking fashion from village to vil lage, always narrow, sometimes skirting sheer cliffs. A group of sculptors must have been estab lished on Naxos, for here archeologists find pieces that were never finished. The largest, near Apollona, is a colossus some 34 feet long; had it been completed, it would have been the statue of a young man. But the sculptor left it lying on its back, 178 Like frames of movie film, portraits of intrepid tourists hang clipped against a wall in Lindos (above). On the half hour donkey or mule ride to the acrop olis most visitors depend on the ani mal's handler, who alternates between pulling the beast along and whacking it on the rear. With infinite trust, one tourist faces backward (right)to record the view on the climb. Occasionally a visitor rides out alone. Then the animal is the master and given to meander ings and impromptu races.