We began our day, back to the usual schedule after our day off, greeted by our old bus and driver, Dimitri. It had only been a day away from the road, but already the break felt long.
Our first stop was at Brauron, a sanctuary to Artemis. It fit into our theme of the day, which was sisterhood in ancient and modern Greece. The sanctuary was different from ones we’d seen before, since it was aplace full of women, or rather girls soon to be women. The museum was full of feminine objects such as perfume, mirrors, jewelry, and make-up. Brauron, we learned, was a sanctuary where young pre-pubescent girls went to learn the mysteries of womanhood, and shared a sisterhood similar to one we have at Hollins that was evident even through the millennia. When they’d grown, like our alumni, they gave gifts to their former home, though instead of donations, they gave votive offerings in the form of statues of children, in thanks or in prayer to Artemis for a safe childbirth. Brauron was also the site of the arkteia festival in which young girls “played the bear,” since to the ancient Greeks, women were like bears. Bears were also a strong symbol of coming into womanhood and childbearing.
Next on our womanly journey, we went to the Lavrion Monastery of St. Paul, a nunnery. We got a tour from Sister Theodoti, who was very nice and made Narnia jokes when we had a lovely reception with tea and the Greek version of Turkish delight. We got to hear all about monastic life and ask questions, and the garden there was simply superb. The monastery at Lavrion is unique in that it houses sisters from thirteen different countries, and the sisterhood that Sister Theodoti reminded us of the magic we have at Hollins! Several of us also bought some oils and loose-leaf teas that the sisters at St. Paul produce in their daily work.
Our last stop was at the beautiful Sounion. We spent some time before and after lunch “groovin’ on the scene” as Professor Salowey would say. Several of us took off our shoes and dipped our feet in the Aegean Sea, which was entirely lovely. We then walked up a small mountain to see the Temple of Poseidon. After Ashleigh presented on the temple, Professor Richter mentioned to us that our favorite Greek traveler, Lord Byron, apparently scratched his name into the temple, like so many others obviously had, so we embarked on a lengthy quest to find it. Spoiler: we found it!
We managed to somehow anger Poseidon, as evidenced by the torrential downpour and thunderstorms that found us after we returned to our residences at Deree. Thankfully it was just an empty threat!
- Sarah and Shoshana