Friday, December 2, 2005

Greek metals

Filed under: travel — plinius @ 9:32 pm

Early in December I go with my mother – a retired librarian – for a pre-Christmas vacation in Cyprus. The Norwegian winter is very bracing. Several municipalities are now sponsoring rest and recreation visits in the Mediterranean for retired (or disabled) people who would rather stay warm. We join one of these groups.

Greece is great. I fell in love with the country from the first – in 1963. The sea and the light, the pride and vigor of ordinary people, the creative energy, the language, the temple ruins at Cape Sounion.

I never had a chance to stay long. The longest period was four weeks of language study in Thessaloniki – and that was twentyfive years ago. I have seen bits of Crete and Corfu and tiny Seriphos in the Cyclades, but never Cyprus.

This big island in the east was a trading centre even in the Bronze Age, 1500 years BC – a millennium before Pericles, the Akropolis and battle of Salamis. Bronze consists of copper and tin. The alloy is harder and much more useful than pure copper. Cyprus was a big producer of copper – the word means the Cyprian metal.

Achilles, Odysseus and Hector belong to heroic, pre-classical Greece – and fight with swords of bronze. Classical Greece belongs to the Iron Age. The Greek foot soldiers – the hoplites of the fifth century BC that bested the Persians at Marathon- used iron weapons.

Our significant metals are different – light aluminimium, dangerous uranium and infinitely versatile silisium. I look forward to copper.


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