“City of Yesteryear” – A short lyrical essay by Fall 2021 Student Ava Galbraith
Scooters wizz past stopped cars racing to get towards the front of the line. Standing near the city bus I peer around the hulking metal to see a clear right-of-way. The little walking man sign may be green but one can never be too careful in the urban maze. In Athens the people are like shorebirds, they scurry alongside streets and around traffic jams; little feet moving towards the cafes across the boulevard where the men stop for coffee and a smoke. Heat wafts from the cobbled lanes and keeps me in dresses well past November. I stop for peach juice and spanakopita, spinach and cheese pie, as I navigate the bustle of the European late morning rush. My mouth fills with buttery filo and the nectar chases the salt down my throat. I savor this part of the day and lazily immerse myself in foreign chatter.
The stately presence of Greek antiquity rises above the greenery of the National Gardens. The tan weathered marbles and modern scaffolding are a reminder of the histories of this timeworn city.
The Parthenon is my schoolhouse. The fall 2021 Ancient Mythology and Religion course held classes at different archeological sites associated with epic poems. Last week we were in Eleusis, about a two-hour drive up the coast, reading the Hymn to Demeter. This week we are in the Dionysus Theater working through The Bacchae. Next, we may be in some mystical castle nestled in the tales of the Odyssey.
The street vendors of the neighborhood markets shout their low prices and hold out vine-cut grapes and fresh figs to entice shoppers to their booth. I weave through the crowd towards the Acropolis. Did the naiads ever run ramped through the agora? Had Agamemnon ever traversed his mighty fort and mingled with traders? The richness of my myth class opens my view of Athens, each historical site becoming part of my epic quest through the semester.
∽ Ava Galbraith, CYA Fall 2021