Am I in Ancient Greece?

The second of the things I knew was that I was in ancient Greece. That is, I was in what I took to be ancient Greece. It certainly wasn’t modern Greece. And yet it may have been some other country, or it may have been no country at all, that is, not a recognized or organized one. It may have been a no-man’s land or disputed zone.

And I don’t know what caused me to say this was Ancient Greece necessarily because there were none of the usual hallmarks (what is a “hallmark” by the way, that word?) or attributes I associate with that place and time: there were, for example, no fluted marble columns, there were no marble structures at all, no crepidoma, if that’s the word (why would I have a word in my head like that one, like crepidoma?); there were no orchards of olive trees, there were no olive-skinned archaic types; there were no white flowing togas or tunics; there were no upstart Phoenicians, there was no one named Alcibiades, there were no phallanxes or horse-hair helmets, no orators, arches, aqueducts, forums, gates, walls…

(And now I must freely admit that quite a few things I associate with Ancient Greece, and by which I might identify Ancient Greece, had never been a part of that culture, so far as any of us know. I have quite a few peculiar ideas about Ancient Greece, it may turn out.)

Ancient Greece, in short, had come to mean so much to me that, under the right conditions, I could be fooled into thinking that almost anywhere I was was Ancient Greece, which I imagine must have been the case presently.

And I very much enjoyed this new place where I was, with its mild climate, I must say.

I never saw another person, I never saw another building, I never heard, for example, a plane overhead, nor ever saw any technology, ancient or modern, beyond a few crude eating utensils and garden implements. There was a shovel, in fact there was a whole rack of shovels — whoever’s dwelling this is, I thought to myself at the time, they must be a merchant in this trade, as there must be upwards of fifty shovels in that rack. And this was another thing that put in mind that this might not be Ancient Greece, for while I did not doubt the Greeks of this period used shovels, nevertheless, whenever you see things in that kind of quantity, be they shovels or anything else, your mind immediately turns to modernity (although one can easily imagine Greek warriors having had cumulatively thousands of swords, and so why couldn’t one imagine Greek workers having had cumulatively thousands of shovels?)

(How did I get here, I’m suddenly thinking, which is first of all a place with no roads and second of all a place that I’m very much inclined to imagine is, of all places, Ancient Greece?)

But on the whole, the absence of all but the most basic and mechanical forms of technology doubly confirmed me in the supposition that I was no longer in the present (that is, of course, if I was ever in the present). Or if, in the unlikely event I was still in the present, if at any moment I was about to hear the oven-timer for my croissant to go off, and rise to fetch it, it was in a geographic location of the present that was very much like that of an earlier and more rustic or glorious time, of which I had no doubt there were some few places left in our own historical period, places untouched not by people per se but untouched by people en masse per se, though they were becoming more and more remote from each other.

For the record I have no, or very little, knowledge of Greece, Rome, history, the history of technology, crepidoma, the Isthmus of Corinth… I suspect it is only that I’ve just read a shrewdly written philosophical tract which has momentarily disoriented me, turned me around, left me with a vacant stare, for which I must apologize. I suspect that soon I will look down to my lap, start reading the next sentence, and find myself securely where I was, in my actual present location, which is, most likely, very much like your present location, with a chair, for example, and some kind of light source. Or else I’ll wake to find I’m opening a tin of cat food and spooning it out. Or else I’ll hear the oven-timer go off, and rise to get my croissant.

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