Opened up to the world as it was in days long past when ships were not made of metal through the hard works of labour, and we had yet to grasp the stars from a new perspective through the eyes of science; Mighty Athens ‘the Free and beautiful city’ (city of all people) be opened to the world in the values attributed to her. For she once be the capital of the ancient world, responsible for rich art and culture, clever and wise philosophers and scientists and the home of all weary a distant traveller. Her city be the birth place of those setting sale to pursue the wisdom of the ancients, being the place by which mighty man, small in stature, came to teach the future generations the value of knowledge. It be the place of sexual freedom, the place where sex be embraced and not discounted. Where begotten lovers cast out for their differences came to call home, where they embrace in the naturalness of their being despite deformities; expressing and exchanging their passions for one another with word, touch and spiritual connection only known to lovers who have had their ships of hope burnt, only to seek repair in the heart of Mighty Athens. For we are beautiful within… the shell of the physical form that surrounds our soul does no way lay vestige claim on the beauty that resides behind the masks we wear. No matter how deep our sense of soul is, no matter how much cuts dealt upon the outer shell, no matter even how much taint we have on our hopes; beauty, no matter how cliché it may be, is true to self; it is this truth that Mighty Athens knows best of all. For Mighty Athens was the place of those seeking to lay claim to it, when their homes and their hopes had been destroyed by war, their banners burnt and their hopes tainted; it was Athens who gave them a new banner and new hope, for Mighty Athens knows all pain.
The Persian wars had given birth to her, though an old and mighty city Athens is, her form as known in culture was birthed by these wars. The mighty hordes led by King Darius of Persia and later his son Xerxes were both defeated by the combined forces and fleets of the Greek state. Under one banner, soldiers from both Ionia and Magna Graecia came together, (despite their differences) uniting to lead a rebellion against their occupiers. Men such as Aeschylus defeated the mighty Persians and liberated themselves from the control of the Persian Empire…. Athens was freed from her dormant state by the power of those willing to liberate themselves from tyranny; truly a value that has since lent itself to the birth of modern nations today. It was out of chaos that the state had been born! Pericles, greatest of statesman (holding leadership of mighty Athens after the 2nd Persian war) was elected by the people out of their free-choice and under him reigned a glorious age. The temples that had once laid on The Acropolis (the place at which mighty temples of the citadel had been) was burnt to the ground by Xerxes’ men at the close of the second Persian war, yet Pericles, in aching heart of this tragedy; erected out of the ashes the Parthenon, and other mighty structures such as the Propylaia and the Erechtheion, as symbols to the world. As if a mighty phoenix rose from the ashes with wings adorned for all to see, she came into being as the city of the people. Her physical form was cut but her beauty within had been true; and it was this beauty that remains to this day, she is truly the ‘universal city’! Representing to us a set of values of the highest order; those of liberty, equality, prosperity and the pursuit of wisdom, all of these values be attributable to the builders of the city, and to the protectors; the vanguards. Vanguards who stand aloft in the early morning hours, of mornings that have and that will be; weather not halting them, strife not weakening them, tragedy not dampening their spirits, they be strong alike, mighty and bold with courage immense; they be Gatekeepers, patrolling the borders of the city state on watch for the hordes that may lay siege. They are the ones keeping fair watch…In their hands Athens resides, in spirit for all of time.
We dream at night of glorious places that escape our world; we sail to distant shores yet to be travelled, we traverse high peaks yet to be climbed, we engage in laughter, embrace in moments yet to be experienced; we go away from the world we are living in to seek a better world. Happy dreams are built upon Athenian values; the values that escape these become our nightmares. When we spend time with those we love we are taking a value that is human, that is Athenian in nature. What makes us human is our ability to emphasise and articulate language that conveys ideas and emotions, to people that may not necessarily have those same ideas or emotions. In this regard children seem to hold highest the values of Athens, they do not see the masks that adults wear, they see what lay behind the mask; what they see is that which transcends the human form. The soul that leaks from an aching heart befallen tragedy and befallen exorbitant ruthlessness; children have no concept of boundaries that adults do, they care not for what banner one stands under, what civilization one comes from, what past one has. What they care about is the soul. In this regard children as young and naive as they maybe of the world, can teach us about ourselves; before the subsequent conditions that might change their views and incorporate them into regimes of iron. Learning from children can be as simple as looking in the mirror, some of us hold values that are childish, this is in no way bad, in fact, it maybe more beneficial if we hold onto these values. For the love and understanding of children, maybe an embodiment of that which we seek to have in our dreams. Athens represents humanity in its best position (it is humanity at its peak!), when it is not twisted to go on the values of tyranny, when it is not twisted to climb the ladder of power or embrace in ideologies that seek to embody a class of individuals rather than all individuals….Is not Athens the city we wish to return to?
The cornerstone by which these values rest upon is universal and holds strongly to a sense of common ownership (commonality) where boundaries are not seen, or divisions made. It is an outside look of the world as it is where nations are indivisible from one another, where anthems dedicated to one group of people against another cannot be heard; where the only thing that can be seen is a spinning globe a drift in the blackness of space. When we seek to erase those boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’, we create a universal state of ‘we’. This is what it means to look to Athens; it is to look to a world where we are one. Allowing people to become aware of this sense of commonality makes a great deal of difference to how we view the world. We all have attributes that are different to one another; we all speak different languages, all belong to different races and ethnicities, we all have different beliefs and ideologies, we all hold to different perceptions of the world we live in. Yet when we focus on what makes us different, conflict is more likely to arise; it is more important for us to focus on what we have in common, rather than seek out the differences between one another. In times of great strife the power to come together can be the only thing stopping two groups from annihilation. In conflicts that rage on between two groups of people, one insisting they have ownership of this land and one insisting that they also have ownership over that same land; the important thing to realise is that the land they fight over is a part of the world, and those two different groups of people both occupy the same world, they therefore share something in common. The more common things that can be found, the more chances of erasing that divide which exists among the two warring groups. Flags are held up by many nations as things to be desired, one might belong to this nation and feel proud of belonging, but is that person not just proud for that sense of commonality? What is a nation but just a group of people who unite around a set of common values? Should we then not focus on what divides, and instead focus on what unites?
Where dreams become foundations of the world of tomorrow, we should dream for each other rather than for neither other. When we seek places beyond that which is, we seek out Athens and all she is. We place down all our dreams in her, for she is us, and we are her; she is what we long to be and in her we see, that which should be. Love should not be concealed especially when we are a part of a world that longs for the richness of universal love and desperate appeal; liberty be not kind but she be fair and we should be inclined to not bind her by chains of tyranny nor chains of apathy, we should instead seek to defend against fiends who would wish to do so. By equality in her wake will give rise to prosperity and in this prosperity all can seek to lay claim to, for she is the dream by which we lay the foundation of tomorrow upon…she is where we long to be.
Written By: Anthony Avice Du Buisson