by JL Wall
Christopher Hitchens visits the new Acropolis Museum (and the place itself) in Athens, and, as is his wont, writes about it (and the Elgin Marbles). In addition to the replacement of the old museum — “insufficient” is too nice a word for it — this also means that the renovation and repair work on the Akropolis itself is either finished or finishing, which gives me another reason to want to go visit again: no scaffolding and construction on the hill.
Because of that (and the hordes of tour groups), it was most stunning from a distance: you can see it from just about anywhere in Athens. Hitchens refers to it as a result of “Periclean Keynesianism,” which is probably disputable (as is just how much of the price was covered by Athenian money), but a work of such beauty, given its location, was also certainly intended to shore up civic pride: I fail to see how living in Athens then, one could wake up, step outside, and see it in the dawn and let it be present throughout the day, just a tilt of the head away, without coming to associate with it: “This is Athens. And I am Athenian.”
And since this is the most relevant moment I will likely have for it: A.E. Stallings has certainly come up with one of the most wonderful titles for a poem I can imagine — “The Modern Greek for ‘Nightmare’ is Ephialtes.” Which, if not true, will be such a disappointment.