Classics Department Travels to Greece

Photo courtesy of Androniki Makres.

Photo courtesy of Androniki Makres.

Dickinson Classics students spent 10 days in Greece during winter break, visiting ancient sites like Athens, Crete, and Delphi. The trip was highly subsidized by a grant donated to the Classics department by the Christopher Roberts Fund to allow students who might otherwise not be able to travel abroad to go to places they would learn about in their various Classics classes. All members of the Classics department qualified for the trip.

We arrived in the afternoon in Athens and immediately began to explore the marketplaces and streets of the city. The hotel was close to a market area and we were free to wander on our own. The streets were thin and filled with cigarette smoke, but we quickly learned how to navigate them. That night we ate dinner on the roof of the hotel with a view of the Acropolis. At midnight, the whole city celebrated New Years with shouts and fireworks. 

Photo courtesy of Eleanor Nolan ’25

In Athens, we explored historic sites, ruins and many museums. We walked up the marble steps of the Acropolis to Athena’s Parthenon and saw an awe-inducing panoramic view of Athens. Later, we visited the Parthenon Museum and saw the historic frieze on the top level. The frieze was arranged to mimic the placement it would have had on the Parthenon, had we seen it as it was originally made. We walked the streets of classical Athens in the Agora to see one of the best preserved temples of ancient Greece, the Temple of Hephaestus. All of us wandered through parks and basked in the presence of the Temple of Zeus, The Theater of Dionysus and the Areophania. Seeing the few surviving bronze statues in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and the rare accounts of the Battle of Salamis engraved in stone slabs in the Epigraphical Museum was life-changing.

In addition to historical sights, we experienced the culture of Athens, trying new foods and meeting people who lived and worked there. Students sampled Mythos and Ouzo, well known Greek beverages, and we enjoyed Greek New Year’s cake with Androniki, our Greek contact from the Hellenistic Education Research Center. As the tradition goes, if you find a coin inside your slice of the cake, you will have good luck in the coming year. 

We visited the city of Delphi to see the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, where Pythia, the high priestess, would deliver her prophecies. The streets were so narrow the bus could hardly fit. We walked the old streets up to the Sanctuary of Apollo and saw many ruins of treasures where they would have kept offerings for the god and prophet. We also went into the museum and saw the famous bronze Charioteer and the Naxian Sphinx. 

On the night of Jan. 4, we woke up in Crete after the first of two overnight ferry rides. In Crete, we visited the Psychro Cave, which is said to be the birthplace of Zeus, and a major neolithic worship site for early Creteans. We saw the Palace of Knossos where the myth of the Minotuar is said to be biased, but was also a major site for the Minoan people in Crete during the bronze age. Partially reconstructed by Arthur Evans between 1905 and 1930, the site is a unique marriage of ancient ruins and modern interpretations of Minoan life. Later, in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, we got to learn about Minoan culture and see some of the beautiful wall art made by the Minoans. 

The trip was not only educational, but it also provided for intra-department bonding. While riding around Greece in the bus we found ways to entertain ourselves, from eating and sleeping, to playing 20 questions with a “Classics in Greece ” theme. To our delight, friendly stray cats and dogs greeted the group at every new location, causing a lot of debate about how exactly one could take a stray cat home; the consensus was that although they were cute, it would be hard traveling with a feral cat on the airplane – no matter how friendly they were. 

Nora Stocovaz ’25, prospective Classics and Anthropology major, said “Being able to travel to Greece with the Dickinson classics department was an incredible opportunity for me because it was my first time leaving the country. I am so grateful to Dickinson for giving me this chance to experience other parts of the world.”