For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Agrigento: The Valley Of The Temples (2)

Strung out along a ridge facing the sea, its series of Doric temples are the most captivating of Sicilian Greek remains and are unique outside Greece. The Rough Guide To Sicily



Henry Adams, in 1889, called Akragas, or ancient Agrigento, Athens with improvements. Pindar called it the most beautiful city of mortals. We found it a stunning place, and quite large enough to absorb all the May visitors. Certain spots we had completely to ourselves. Our artistic, Portuguese B&B landlady had enthused about the site's sacred, almost mystical aura, and about the extraordinary quality of the light. She was right on both counts.

The sacred buildings of this valley date from the 5th century BC. This is the temple of Castor and Pollux (or the Dioscuri - the Gemini twins) ...




And this is the temple of Concord (Concordia - Roman goddess of harmony, agreement and understanding), the most intact of the temples ...



Here's the temple of Hera (Juno), wife of Zeus (Jove or Jupiter), king of the gods ...



Looking back at the temple of Hera through prickly pear cactus, almonds and olives ...




Finally, this is the temple of Heracles (Hercules), son of Zeus and Alcmene, some would say the greatest of the Greek heroes (what he lacked in cleverness and subtlety, he made up for in courage and sexual prowess) ...



I just loved the Valley of the Temples, and it's given me a strong desire to travel further, to go to Greece, and Crete, and the Greek islands, so I can experience firsthand much more of early Greek culture, and walk in the footsteps of the gods ...


Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' / Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades / For ever and for ever when I move. / How dull it is to pause, to make an end, / To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! / As tho' to breathe were life ... TENNYSON Ulysses

6 comments:

George said...

Loved this second posting, Robert. Great photos that make me want to get up and fly off to Sicily immediately. As for Tennyson's quote, all I can say is that it has resonated in my head with each passing year since I first discovered it many, many decades ago. Thanks for sharing your journey, your thirst for travel, and your commitment to "shine in use."

The Solitary Walker said...

I like Tennyson (well, I must admit I haven't been able to get through much of it - Merlin and Vivien, The Holy Grail, The Last Tournament etc etc!). However, when he's at his poetic best, he's wonderful, I think - about time his reputation was reevaluated.

Tennyson was born near here, and I've visited his village and his haunts many times from an early age. I've written several posts on Tennyson on my blog - they're under 'Alfred Lord Tennyson' (LABLES) if you're interested.

George said...

Thanks, Robert, for referring me to your other postings on Tennyson. I read and enjoyed each of them. I have always loved the themes of "Ulysses" and Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium," but I never thought about the obvious link between the two. May we always be seekers and have souls that clap their hands and sing.

Bonnie said...

The light is amazing and what a setting for these amazing temples. I have been to Athens, Crete and the Greek Islands and I must say your pictures rival anything I saw there. I hope the valley is as unpeopled in October when my daughter visits as it appears in your photographs.

I, too, prefer not to rust unburnished ... Love that quote.

Tramp said...

I have a friend on holiday in Sicily at the moment. Thanks to reading your posts I will have be able to have more well-informed conversations with him when he gets back. Thanks...Tramp

Caroline Gill said...

Happy memories of Sicilia [Agrigento, Selinunte, Ragusa, Siracusa...] on a kilometrico ticket back in the mid 80s... The oranges could have been footballs! Snow on Vesuvius - hot sun under Etna hours later.

I agree with George that the Tennyson quotation is amazing.