Were-catting and Antiquity
You can usually tell when we’re nearing the end of a sit. The activities start to crescendo as we rush around trying to squeeze in all the things we wanted to do and see before we depart, perhaps forever.
First I must tell you that Max is still being Max. He really is a darling cuddlebug. Robin snapped this picture of him sleeping under the covers next to me. Because of its composition, I look as though I’m mutating into a were-cat (like a werewolf except a cat!). Robin said it creeped him out a bit, and that gave us both a good laugh.
I am gonna miss that furball like crazy. I’m already fighting tears about it.
Robin and I backtracked to Fabrica Hill to pick up some spots we missed. (The site is enormous!) We chased down an ancient outdoor banqueting site, an ancient aqueduct, and a so-called “lover’s chapel,” which was simply a high opening in the stone that resembled a chapel and had been crammed full of religious icons.
Next we scooted across the street to view another catacomb not far from the Agia Solomini catacomb, this one named after a Saint Lambrianos.
The catacomb is an underground carved area with many chambers that used to serve as a grave of the Hellenistic era that later became a place of worship of the earliest Christian residents before the first overground churches were built at the end of the 4th century AD.
The venue is accessible by a narrow stone staircase leading to a small patio. From there, the visitor encounters various underground openings leading to a series of small caves with high vaults carved into the familiar inverted boat shape (nave) that’s common in Christian churches.
A few days later, Robin and I took an afternoon off to drive to Kourion and strolled around that expansive archeological landscape with its many extraordinary features, including several individual homes boasting gorgeous mosaic floors, another amphitheatre (this one a working venue), and an extensive ruined agora (marketplace). Robin felt the spirits of Roman citizens mingling with us as we were walking around the site. Imagine living in this gorgeous place!
Many of these private houses were positioned so as to afford a wonderful view of the Mediterranean—I guess that real estate adage of “Location, Location, Location” held true even in Roman times. Given how the entire settlement is perched on a high clifftop, I couldn’t help wondering how they got their daily water supply. I imagine slaves carted it up the hill from streams and springs further inland.
A home they excavated is called Eustolios House, and several beautiful mosaics are inside (one sadly covered with sand until they restore the protective roof sheltering it). At the entrance, a mosaic reads:
Enter to thy
And may thy coming bless
Wouldn’t it be delightful to be received into someone’s home in this charming fashion?
The ruins of the agora were enormous—one can only imagine how bustling it originally was. Surrounding the open courtyard of the agora were several buildings—some shops and some dedicated to public functions. These latter could include a library, courtroom, school, or municipal administrative offices.
The agora was more than a mere marketplace—it functioned as a hub for social life as well as commerce.
Next was the “House of the Gladiators,” so-called because of the mosaic depicting gladiators battling. It may have been a training academy for gladiators or it may have been a luxurious private residence when it was built in the 3rd century. It contained several bedrooms with adjoining private baths that may have been for the use of guests or perhaps for gladiators to relax after training.
The magnificent amphitheatre was originally constructed around the 2nd century BCE and enhanced over the next few centuries until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th century CE and abandoned. It was reconstructed into its current form in the mid-20th century and is an active, working venue that accommodates 3,000 persons.
With its immense backdrop of the sparkling Mediterranean sea and its ancient heritage, I can’t even imagine performing on that stage. I spoke with someone who has, and she observed how it takes a lot of nerve to walk out there… and it is incredibly satisfying to receive a standing ovation from the crowd underneath the twinkling moon and stars.
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Until next week, ciao!
warmly, -Dr. Vicky Jo