Wor Bro McClintock and I travelled to Dublin, enroute to Athens, and got caught up in all the excitement and disruption arising from the Hanger Fire at Dublin Airport, on our morning of departure. We were boarded onto our plane and then held on the ground for two hours, before finally being allowed to take off. Needless to say, this played havoc with our travel plans and it took considerable time, and an extra flight to finally get us to our destination in Athens. But all congratulations to The Philotection Society in Greece, their car was waiting for us at the airport and took us straight to the Workshop Hotel, where we met up with our hosts for a quick chat and some liquid refreshment.
On our first morning in Athens, we set off on a bus tour to the Agora – the ancient marketplace of Athens, where people gathered to tak, to listen to Orators such as Socretes, to trade and to conduct all the business required to run govern the City State of Athens. As most of you probably know, this was the site where Democracy, as we now know it, first came to the fore as a political model to rule the state. Above, on one of the surrounding hills is the Temple of Athena, located on The Acropolis, the spiritual centre of Athens.
Dr Dipla, from the University of Athens, gave our group a comprehensive presentation on the Agora, explaining the history of the site and the use and structures of the many buildings spread over the site. As we approached the site, we first saw The Library of Hadrian, a name that we tend to associate with the wall between England and Scotland. Hadrian however had been governor of Athens before he went to the wilds of Britain. Next, we wandered over to visit a number of the other sites including Stoa, which is the greek term for Porch or covered way. One such Stoa is the Stoa Poikile, the Painted Porch from where Zeno of Citium taught the philosophy of Stoicism.
For the religious in our midst, you may be interested to learn that there was once a jewish synagogue located in the Agora, a few metres from the north east corner of the Metroon, an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Demeter. In the Book of Acts it is said thet the apostle Paul visited this synagogue and delivered a sermon, on his way to Rome in 50AD. Across the way is the glorious Stoa of Attalus located along the Eastern boundary, 115M long x 20M wide. The Stoa still survives, and was renovated in the 1950’s by an American Architectural Practice to turn it in to a modern exhibition space to exhib the many statues and artifacts recovered from this area in Athens.
By now Dr Dipla had been speaking continuously for some three hours, so we took the opportunity to thank her for her very informative lecture on Greek History and then returned to our air conditioned chariot, and made our way back to the Conference Centre for Lunch.
Rt Wor Bro Dimitrios Kontesis opened the afternoon session at 18.30PM with a review of the previous Workshop in 2014 and a report on the progress being made by the Philotection Society on the back of last years Workshop. Finantially the Workshop just about broke even, an excellent result from their First Workshop. They have now published a bound copy of the complete proceedings from 2014 and all attendees this year received an individually numbered copy, as part of their welcome pack. Some of the remaining copies will be sent to Masonic Liberies throughout Europe and the remainder ( a relatively small number ) will be available from the Philotection Society in Athens at a cost of 35 euros plus postage.
Part Two will follow shortly.