Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ancient Greece lives on in London Marathon

This is Blackheath in south-east London this morning at the start of the London Marathon.

    And this is the Marathon plain in Greece where the battle between the Persians disembarking from their ships and the Greeks was fought in 490 BC.

The runner with the news that the Persians had been defeated by the Greeks in the Battle of Marathon in 490BC would have set off around the bay and then between the mountains to the left of this picture. 

There is a museum in the modern town of Marathon (behind the hill to the right of this picture) where the whole history of this race is celebrated.

Modern sculptures of marathon runners outside the Marathon Run Museum, Attica, Greece, remind me of the vase paintings of the ancient runners who ran such distances as a matter of course - see below. There was no long distance running race in the Olympic or other Games in ancient times. Running was just how they got from place to place, and they would keep up the pace by beating out a rhythm or singing or playing music. I read on Twitter today about a suggested playlist for Marathon runners! 

In The Boy with Two Heads, Themis has to cover the distance between Olympia and the small village of Pylos near Elis (?40 kms) with his sidekick Frog and a guard called Xenon. "Once they had run until they were tired, he got out a flute ..."

I am also reminded of the mural made in 2012 at Providence College, Rhode Island, USA, (as mentioned in this blog in April 2012) that links Then and Now.

My congratulations to all those who took/are taking part in this year's London Marathon. I heard it was the 127th official marathon. What courage and determination in so many good causes! 

Was any of my readers also there at the beginning or the finish?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Two Heads: from Ancient Greece to Scotland ...

Does this sculpture remind you of anything? It seems the idea of the two-headed man is not only connected to my Boy with Two Heads!

This sculpture is by Peter Dowden. It is called 'Nippon ma hied'. We found him/them unexpectedly in the sculpture garden at Threave Estate in Dumfries and Galloway where we were daffodil hunting at the weekend.

narcissi in the woods at Threave Gardens, March 30th 2014

Then again, sculptures of people are not the only design features with two heads. Later, in a greenhouse, I saw one of Nature's own. It, too, echoes Ancient Greek motifs.

This fern is a tree fern from Australasia, but all ferns uncurl their new leaves in this way. Not always in perfect symmetry, however, like this one. 

The vase border motif is from 450BC. The complete vase (a volute-krater for mixing wine and water) is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue in New York and was painted in about 450BC in Attica, by a painter who has been given the memorable name of the Painter of the Woolly Satyrs ...

Please be in touch if you see any other two-headed statues anywhere. (Woolly Satyrs are probably beyond the scope of this blog..!)

all photographs ©JuliaMNewsome except the vase-border (detail from an Attic red-figure bell-krater by the Villa Giulia Painter, in the British Museum) and the volute-krater (Metropolitan Museum of Art).