Any English speaker can figure out Greek by looking at the root words. As the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding pointed out, you can link any word–except, perhaps, kimono–to a Greek one. Actually, about 3500 English words are easily linked to Greek ones (the majority others to Latin).
Acropolis means ‘highest city.’ Metropolis, megalopolis, politics, policy, etc. all come from ‘polis’ meaning ‘city.’ And the root of words like acrobat and acropolis is, to my surprise, not ‘akro’, but ‘akron.’
Huh? Akron?! Why, then, is the city in Ohio, altitude 955 feet, named Akron? And its county is Summit County. Known for rubber tires and the first Alcoholics Anonymous, now I know that it’s perched on a summit. Interesting…
Anyway, the Acropolis of Athens is best known, day and night images shown round the world. The Parthenon, built in 5th century BC, is in the 3rd phase of a 10-part renovation. Still dramatic as it oversees a population of 5.5 million.
The one in Mycenae is much more ancient, dating back to 1600 BC. It flourished during the Bronze Age and many of its relics were bronze and gold. It is most famous for the nearby Mask of Agamemnon, though it’s said to post-date the actual years of Agamemnon’s life, and the Lion Gate, one of the earliest large sculptures in history. Mycenae’s excavation was undertaken by a German archaeologist named Schliemann. Consequently, signs are in Greek and German there and busloads of Deutsch-speaking tourists visit.
Both of these acropoli are designated World Heritage sites.
I love the acropolis in Lindos on Rhodes, which I’ve already written about. All else being similar–sanctuary of Athena, rebuilt after one or more destructions, geographic prominence and so forth–it may be due to its seaside location. It balances on a bluff overlooking the ocean making the ascent and the view quite dramatic.
More on heights later when I put my thoughts together about the monasteries.
Kim Ku’ulei Birnie (c) naleialoha.net