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ANTIKYTHERA

Having woken at one o’clock in the morning, we speed off in a Jeep to Diakofti. The ferry from Athens arrives shortly afterwards. We step on board and meet Fivos’ father, Aris Tsaravopoulos, the archaeologist, and my old friend Adonis, an erudite amateur archaeologist.

We settle down in a vast, almost deserted lounge area and the conversation immediately turns to the Minoans, pre-classical civilisations and prehistoric antiquities. I put on my headphones and fall asleep listening to Die Fledermaus.

At four o’clock in the morning, I go up on deck. The bow of the old ship is accessible and I take up a position there. The swell is quite heavy. Above me, the moon and the stars light up a wonderful night sky, contrasting with a dark, almost troubling sea. The vague form of a rocky island approaches, an island emerging from the sea, and we can make out the distant lights of Antikythera. I stay there in the warm breeze for more than an hour.

We enter Antikythera’s tiny harbour, that I can barely make out. We climb up to the island’s only hotel, run by a despicable crook. Nothing is ready, neither the beds nor the rooms. We’re welcomed by a skeletal, toothless Bulgarian, a slave clearly abused by his owner. He does his best, but what can he do? Another guest has still not found a room. He claims to be a journalist and hangs around us in a rather creepy manner. We manage to laugh at these mishaps.

At 8 a.m. I go outside and am met by a blustering wind. The sea is almost white with spray. I can barely stand up on the concrete terrace. I immediately understand that Antikythera is a place where the line between the visible and the invisible is very thin indeed. I came here for the “Antikythera mechanism”, which is no longer an enigma, but also for a true enigma: “The love of one’s neighbour overcomes all in war”.

We walk up to the site known as Kastro, an important settlement in Antiquity, and stay there for at least five hours.
Our wise companions, Adonis Kirou and Tsaravopoulos the elder talk about each fragment they find beneath the blazing sun. I set off happily on my own to explore. I visit the houses of a ruined village, their walls built with stones taken from ancient contructions.
I jump over a 5th century wall and sit down, gazing out over the Thimonies islets, four outcrops beseiged by the waves and crashing breakers. They seem strange and aggressive and formidable and speak of some other terrifying world.

I sit and contemplate them for a long time. It is not enough merely to love the elements, the land, the sea, the wind and the light; it is not enough to thank them. We must respect them as they, the elements, respect us, as they love us, and as they thank us…


by Prince Michael of Greece