Mythos, by Stephen Fry
To culturally prepare for a trip to Greece that I’ve just returned from, last week I started listening to Mythos, The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry.
I found it exquisite! The myths, the gods and other immortals and mortals, the hidden meanings, the linguistic implications in effect to this day, the interconnections and symbolism. It is a beautiful experience to hear it narrated by Fry himself and his passion for storytelling and language transpires in every turn of phrase.
If you are left wanting more Ancient Greek escapism, you should know this is part of a trilogy by Fry also including books on Heroes and Troy. If you still can’t get enough of Fry’s voice, as an Audible subscriber you get free access to quite a few brilliant series like Fry’s English Delight, Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets or Stephen Fry’s Edwardian Secrets, as well as many other books, written or just narrated by him. I might finally cave in and get his narration of the Harry Potter books, after all, it will be an investment into hours of fun for my son in a few years’ time!
Airbnb Hidden Gems
Speaking of my recent travels, there is one aspect of planning a trip that I always enjoy and like to take my time with, and that is searching for the right Airbnb! There really isn’t anything better if what you need is the comfort of a home, with all the amenities and utilities.
In over 5 years, I have never failed to find beautiful, unique houses, and this time has been no exception, as I’ve shared on Instagram. Sure, you need to browse through many pages of copy-paste Ikea style flats and studios, but there are always some hidden gems. You might actually find an Airbnb Plus home, one that has been verified in person, remarkable for its thoughtful design and exceptional host. Once you have your accommodation sorted, you can also check their selection of local experiences to enjoy upon arrival.
If you, or rather your bank account, are up for it, you can always browse their Luxe section. Such a booking actually comes with a dedicated trip designer who’s there to craft your five-star stay. From chefs and butlers to childcare and renting sporting equipment, there seems to be no limit to what your money could buy, if you only know what to ask for!
Museum Secrets – the Ashmolean’s Podcast
I just started listening to this brilliant podcast by the Ashmolean, the University of Oxford’s Museum of Art and Archaeology, founded in 1683. I am on episode number eight and there are 25 available in total, in two series. I found them all very insightful and entertaining and I really appreciate the short format, with the length ranging from 5 to no more than 15 minutes.
I guarantee you will learn something new with each episode, like the discovery below which really came as a big surprise to me. I was very happy to learn that there are in fact two other podcast series provided by the Ashmolean, Thinking with Things and Objects Out Loud and both sound right up my alley.
Colourful Ancient Greek Sculptures
Did you know that ancient Greek sculptures used to be painted in bright vibrant colours? The white marble statues that we consider classics are a product of the Renaissance, when ancient Greek sculptures that had lost their paint began being excavated and the artists of the day (think Michelangelo & co), not knowing better, believed this to have been the ancient aesthetic. To this day, because of that, this is how we think of Greek art and even after knowing better, people still find it hard to believe and less attractive.
At the forefront of this revelation and area of research is German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann. He has dedicated almost two decades to studying and reproducing Ancient Greek sculptures as they might have looked like then. His collection of replicas has been displayed around the world, but perhaps most notably at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Read more about the Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture in The New Yorker and you’ll discover some of the other expert voices in this field of study.
I find this entirely fascinating and I can’t help but think if something as big as this went unnoticed for centuries, what else might we have gotten wrong? Could it be something life-changing?
Guerilla Flower Takeovers
Speaking of statues, this week’s flower delivery comes courtesy of artist Geoffroy Mottard’s guerilla flower takeovers. A few years ago, the florist took to embellishing statues around Brussels with his botanical beards, hats and other accessories.
I get such a sense of mischief seeing these monuments temporarily adorned with colourful and playful flower arrangements, that it is impossible not to admire the work with a smile on my face.
What do you think of them?
The Science of Olive Oil
This is something I’ve been meaning to research for a while, and this week presented the perfect opportunity. It is impossible to visit Greece and not gain awareness of their love for olives and olive oil. They are world-famous for these products.
After getting what felt like an overdose of olive oil with each meal, I finally looked into the science behind the claim that it is healthy. You can read here about the benefits that have stood the test of scientific research.
From its high content of monosaturated fats and antioxidants to its anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil may prevent strokes, protect against heart disease, fight Alzheimer’s disease and much more.
Yet, I also valued the counter-position provided by this extensive overview which doesn’t deny any of the potential advantages to consuming olive oil but makes the case for seeing the full picture of one’s diet, moderation and considering even healthier choices that can deliver the same benefits as olive oil.
As always, balance is the key!
Rare Word – Logolepsy
A fascination for or obsession with words – this is what logolepsy means. It is a rare Ancient Greek word, meaning it is not used commonly in written or spoken language. There are many such exquisite words that don’t really have an equivalent in modern languages and I love to find these, it feels like stumbling upon a hidden treasure. I guess you could say I have logolepsy!
Still, I realised this week more than ever before, that for all the rare words, there may be even more words that we use on a daily basis that are actually rooted in Greek. The influence of classical Greek on English has been largely indirect, through Latin and French, yet, according to one estimate, more than 150,000 words, including technical and scientific terms, but also many everyday words, are derived from Greek.
Read more about it here, discover some surprising examples and learn how to spot even more!
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.