Photo Essays

Tragedy and Journey in Greek Culture (Greece)

Photos and Captions by Emily B. Coxe

This is a very symbolic image that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I can never remember taking my best photographs (perhaps that’s why I like them most!). Shot at the National Anthropological Museum on our very first day touring Athens, this image represents, to me, the transience of our journey through such a fixed, ancient world.

Who knew there would be a vinyl-sided kitchen facility attached to the back of the Parthenon? Round any bend in Athens and you could find ancient ruins, or a Dumpster. I was fascinated by the way the modern Greeks had built their society up around that of the ancients, both engulfing it and dwarfed by it simultaneously.

We climbed past the ancient Oracle in Delphi and up to the top of a mountain to reach this stadium, but despite the arduous hike, everyone’s first instinct was to run! After thousands of years, these ancient sites still conjure up a sort of awe and energy that we felt every moment of the journey.

These dogs were showing off for us in the center of a huge ampitheater in Epidaurus, the hub of the ancient medical world. Stray dogs and cats were everywhere in Greece, on city street corners and in the remotest of ruins. They came to be a reassuring presence, almost as if they held some mysterious, ancient secret and were looking out for us.

Here we stand inside a famous beehive-shaped tomb at Mycenae, one of the oldest and least understood of the ancient cultures. It was our last day on the road, and I think everyone was a bit anxious to get home. But this strikingly simple vault had a magic to it, like the Pyramids, and we rested inside for a few minutes to wonder at it.