Journey to the Gods

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9780094698604: Journey to the Gods

For years John Hillaby thought about a journey on foot to the home of the gods - from Athens in Attica to Mount Olympus on the fringe of Macedonia. The way lay through rough territory whose names reverberated with echoes of Homer and Hesiod - Thebes and Boeotia, Mount Helicon and Mount Parnassus, Thessaly and Delphi. Recently he and his wife set out on that journey, backpacking across the roof of the bare and almost deserted Pindos range to which Greek maps give only rudimentary guidance. In this book he comments on the history and mythology of the country he walks through, on the owls - those familiars of the Goddess Athene - and orchids and butterflies, on temple architecture, on Byron's exploits and the cultivation of the olive. Croaking frogs in a streamlet put him in mind of Aristophanes and the Persian wars; beehives of Virgil's treatise on beekeeping in the "Georgics"; weather conditions recall the legends of Zeus, Gatherer of Clouds. In the hot and dusty squares and small tavernas of remote villages, he and Katie meet with traditional Greek kindness to strangers and in a mixture of pidgin Greek and other languages become embroiled in conversations. On their journey they also manage to enter a little into the mysterious world of the Vlacks and Wallachians, Europe's least-known ethnic minority. In black woollen capes, standing guard silently over flocks of goats on rocky hilltops, these nomads, the "Black Departers", are the self-appointed Ishmaels of the Balkans. Storming the heights of the Pindos and scrambling through the gorges of the Sperkios, John Hillaby arrives at last on the slopes of Mount Olympus. The author also wrote "Journey Through Britain" and "Journey to the Jade Sea".

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From the Back Cover:

From Athens to the home of the ancient gods, through Attica and Boeotia, over mountain gorges cut by the Sperkios river, in and around the Plain of Thessaly to the slopes of Mount Olympos, John Hillaby and his wife take us to a Greece unknown to the common traveller. Delving into the rich history, architecture and mythology of this land with a stunning ease and breadth of reference, John Hillaby vividly conjures up stories from the country’s classical past amid tales of his own travels. Britain’s greatest living walker, Hillaby writes of his breathtaking adventures with an assurance of descriptive style that must make this the climax of all his journeys.

“His latest epic”
THE TIMES

“His magpie’s delight in collecting produces a rich hoard of humorous anecdote, reminiscence, historical, cultural and mythological titbit. Written with zest and scholarship”
DAILY TELEGRAPH

“Combining a well-stocked mind and a bawdy sense of humour, Hillaby makes every step of the trip entertaining … A wonderful and witty travelling companion”
IRISH INDEPENDENT

“A book to take up and savour”
PUBLISHING NEWS

“Fascinating, vivid and witty”
CONTEMPORARY REVIEW

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