If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be?
I’m super excited to answer this one because, for once, I know exactly how to answer this prompt and exactly what I would want to bring back to my hometown.
Here’s a hint: It’s an iconic temple built during the height of the Golden Age in Ancient Greece and serves as a symbol of Athens’ power over the rest of the Ancient Western Civilization.
That’s right; if I could clone one element from another city that I’ve visited and bring back to my hometown, I would bring back The Parthenon.
Before I get into my own personal story, I thought I’d give a brief history about The Parthenon. It was built by Iktinos and Kallicrates, and after 15 long years of construction was finally completed in 438 BC. This temple was dedicated to Athena, who is the patron goddess of Athens and the goddess of wisdom, the arts, war, and strategy. The Parthenon was built on the highest point of the Acropolis, and was meant to serve as a symbol of Greece’s power and strength over the rest of the ancient world. However, much of the temple was damaged in the gunpowder explosion of 1687, and was further damaged through the various wars and raids of other enemy countries. Today, most of The Parthenon is in ruins or is structurally unstable, yet it still serves as an important landmark of the modern-day Athens and Greece.
Now the question is: Why, of all things, would I bring The Parthenon back to my hometown?
To start off, I am a huge classical civilizations fanatic, and especially in regards to the Ancient Greek civilization, mythology and Ancient Greece as a whole. This interest began in Grade 2, when I first learned about Greek gods and goddesses. I remember looking at a picture of Zeus with his lightning bolt, looking as if he were about to smite all his enemies and thinking, “Wow, this is actually pretty cool!” Later on, I became even more engrossed in Greek mythology when I read the Percy Jackson series. I was hooked in, and I actually ended up reading the entire series within the span of 3 days, and then rereading the books over and over for months afterwards. After that, I went onto my computer and spent weeks researching and reading more about classical civilizations, Greek myths, and the other Western Civilizations. This whole experience opened my eyes to a whole new world; or more correctly, a very different and old world that served as a home to some of the world’s greatest philosophers and scholars. These were the prodigies and geniuses who calculated the value of pi, constructed spheres, invented the lever and pulley, developed the concept of atoms, explored the meaning of life and happiness, and built the very foundations of the modern civilization that we now live in.
In Summer 2012 I was given the opportunity to visit Athens, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most memorable, enjoyable, and favourite vacations I’ve ever had. The walk up the Acropolis was quite an ordeal as I had to push through massive crowds of people and endure the scorching heat and sweat, but the moment I passed through the Propylaia and saw the white marble columns and ruins, I knew that it was completely worth it. I was completely memorized and drawn to the Parthenon, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Right in front of me, right here, was a testament to our ancestors’ power, victory, and absolute might. Here was a masterpiece; created and built by the greatest architects and craftsmen of Ancient for the glory of Athena and their country. Here, right in front of me, was a symbol of humanity; of mankind’s hard work, dedication, and a sign of our perseverance, strength, intelligence, and everything that defined us as human beings.
So to me, the Parthenon isn’t some washed-up boring pile of ruins; it means the world to me and encompasses what I feel about mankind and humanity. It was, and remains to this day, a masterpiece of Ancient Greece, and serves as a symbol of mankind’s perseverance and strength in the past, present, and future. It is a beacon of hope as to what we should ultimately strive towards; to think big, dream bigger, pursue your passions, and to use your talents and abilities to leave your own mark on the word and inspire others to greatness.