Ah, this was lovely. Remember those halcyon days of yore, four months ago – seems like four years – when you could travel abroad, enjoy a meal with friends, go into a small souvenir shop and take a boat trip? All of that was going on here. The idea of this programme was that Bettany Hughes was retracing (ish) the journey taken by Odysseus on his way from Troy back to Ithaca. Odysseus always really annoys me, TBH. Taking ten years to get home, when he knew that Penelope was waiting?! But never mind. This was a lovely programme. Sunshine, blue sea, lots of meals eaten al fresco, and, hooray, lots of ancient Greek ruins. And a type of cup, supposedly designed by Pythagoras, which spills all the wine if you overfill it, to stop you from getting too drunk.
Bettany sailed first of all to Chios, where she received a very warm welcome and discussed the tradition of “Philoxenia” – a love for strangers, making them feel welcome. Then on to Lesbos, where she went to some wonderful thermal baths – oh, when will we be allowed even to go in a swimming pool again?! – and visited the theatre of Mytilene, which gave the Romans the idea for all the theatres (ditto being able to go to theatres again) they built. And then her next stop was Samos, where she visited an amazing ancient Greek aqueduct, heard the tale of Pythagoras and the cup, and saw what was supposed to be the birthplace of Hera, and also where the marriage of Hera and Zeus took place.
I usually find it frustrating when history and myth get too tangled up together, but somehow it works really well in Greece. I’ve got a pair of earrings which a shopkeeper in Delphi assured me solemnly were exactly like the ones Helen of Troy would have worn! And, after staggering up the steep hill to the citadel of Mycenae, in extremely high temperatures, no-one was telling me that this wasn’t Agamemnon’s city.
This was a lovely programme. Bettany Hughes is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic, without ever being silly, or sarcastic, or trying to push across an agenda. And all that lovely Greek sun and sea. There were even dolphins! Just so, so nice 🙂 .