WHERE THE DANCE CROSSES

World, life and function in a Greek Orthodox village

Juliet du Boulay

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I was the only outsider in the community – I was still single then – and I depended on the people for everything, not only for information about their lifestyles, beliefs and values, but also for those things without which no life could not be possible there – hospitality, love, laughter, comfort and companionship. And nothing can replace for me the living experience of this way of life – the shrillness of people's voices in their soft Euboean accent, the rapid torrent of infamy on a delinquent child or a stray goat, the scent of pine from ' the fireplaces in winter and the coolness of the water under the sycamore in summer; the spring evenings, filled with nightingales and the crowing of roosters and bursts of barking; the September air with the acrid odors of dried herbs and rotting figs; the long hikes on the mountain paths, company with the people of the village and the feast of their conversations; their amazing love to accept me as a stranger among them the winter evenings when I sat with them in front of the fireplace, with the sounds of the flame tripping on the wood, and there the villagers recounting old memories, full of deep dramatic echoes, discussing and reminiscing, sharing insights, stories and silences. At such moments I felt as people really feel in such communities when their confidence is intact; I felt with them that I was at the center of the world.

Translation:
Fr. Vassilios Argyriadis - Liadain Sherrard
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EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

The village I finally went to, in 1966, was in northern Evia. It was a mountain village with 33 inhabited houses and a population of 130 people, who cultivated their fields, extracted resin from the forests, and kept sheep and goats as domestic animals, or (in two cases) in herds. Most of the young men had immigrated temporarily or permanently to Australia, Germany, Canada, or were working in the merchant navy, and all the young women were committed to their unwavering resolve to marry well, that is, not to work in the fields, but to be able to "sit" (as they put it). Despite the small population of the village, the way of life, although it had already begun to steadily erode, included a whole world of knowledge, experience, wisdom and skill, which had been characteristic of Greek villages for countless generations of people. Today, fifty years later, the people, along with the way of life they embodied, are gone and passed away. However, although some houses have fallen down, there are others that have been restored by the children and grandchildren of people I knew, and serve as second homes, for growing fruit and vegetables, for vacations and as retreats in retirement. I originally gave this village the nickname "Ambeli", but its real name, which people want me to use today, is Amelantes.
What I wrote was as honest as I could, they do not pretend to monopolize the whole truth. But if they reveal to the Greek public (and especially to the Greeks who have been removed by one or more generations from their ancestral villages) the mountain rural life as I lived it in the 60s and 70s, then perhaps my encounter with the villages and their culture to be not just personal, but rather part of a universal experience that can be shared by others.

The vitality and complexity of the tradition led me to present the culture of this Greek village not as a way of thinking that time has made obsolete, but as a way of seeing the world that has been honored by time, making it possess an undying prestige. This is why throughout the book, with few exceptions, I use the present tense. This way of thinking became the mainstay of the Greek people for over two millennia. It adapted to new philosophical movements and the constant vicissitudes of history with subtle changes in the ways in which the culture's inherent themes were expressed. But he always maintained the integrity and meaning of the subjects themselves. In anthropology, Charles Stewart has pointed to orthodox images of the heavenly and demonic worlds that have remained unchanged since the 4th century AD. to date (Stewart, Demons and the Devil). Similarly, a historian of late antiquity made the following comment on the book at hand: in the early Christian centuries, all these themes are present, but much more crude and conflicting, whereas as described here they seem to have been rounded, like pebbles in a ravines; and this has happened through the practice of an established Christianity, which has so often shown that it can balance and harmonize sharp contrasts. Even today, although this eternal understanding of the world faces radical challenges from globalization, technocracy, and secular assumptions, there are elements of these ancient understandings that continue and will continue to remain. Adam and Eve, as archetypes of man and woman, the figure of the Virgin Mary as Mother of all, still remain elements alive in the Greek imagination, and beyond the timeless association of some specific ways of thinking that have now "rounded like pebbles" in the Greek culture, the Church itself continues to provide enduring interpretations of the world, as influential as any other age.

Λεπτομέρειες προϊόντος:

Αριθμός σελίδων: 472

Διαστάσεις: 15 X 22

ISBN: 978-960-619-154-1

Κωδικός: 20752