33 Readers
16 Sages

shell pebble

the pleasure of a good ruin

Ionia: A Quest - Freya Stark

Ahh Freya Stark! A dauntless and learned traveller with poetic and philosophical sensibilities, she here took the legendarily unreliable Herodotus as her principle guide to Turkey/Asia Minor/the Levant, and unlike that classical historian-geographer, wrote with scrupulous honesty, humility and frank subjectivity. While imaginatively inhabiting an ancient past full of warring Greeks, Persians, Lydians and other contemporaries, she navigates a more immediate physical world of hospitable and helpful hosts, spectacular natural beauty and poorly protected ruins. Her transcendent experience at the theatre in Priene, and her description of the harmony of Greek buildings and roads with the landscape they inhabit, provide a surpassingly eloquent and sensitive insight into the pervasive appeal of the 'classical' Greek world. I didn't find this an easy read though, and readers who don't share Stark's passion might well find it a slog.