Monday, 25 August 2014

Aitken's Lemnos: a transformative memory of the Aegean war

The words we choose to use have a huge power over our imagination. When I hear words like “Greek islands” or “the Aegean” my mind conjures up visions of beaches, olive trees and sunlight. Even though my knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome is fairly weak, I still sense the evocative and historical power of the ancient place names of the Aegean region. Islands such as Lemnos and Samothrace contain relics of a history which goes back thousands of years, and it is this very ancient history itself which allows our imaginations to wander and dream: myths of figures such as Hephaestus, the Greek god who was cast out of Olympus and fell into water near the coast of Lemnos. Jason and the argonauts also rested here, and were tempted to stay there by the women who ruled the island at the time. Further back in time the mists are even thicker and the legends more enigmatic: the ancient Lemnians worshipped a duo of deities known as the Cabeiri, subterranean figures whose history is obscure.