Monday, 26 January 2009

Postcard 13: Swifts over the Parthenon

My archaeologist husband, David, has supplied the podcast (via YouTube) for this postcard from Athens. He writes,

'I was sitting next to the Parthenon in late September and the sky was thick with swirling swifts (or were they swallows? Please let us know!). I pointed the microphone of my digital recorder skywards and here is a snatch of the sound. The pictures, some from Philopappos Hill, were taken in the late afternoon.'

See Robert D. Lamberton and Susan I. Rotroff, Birds of the Athenian Agora (Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book 22; Princeton NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1985) [Google Books] [Oxbow UK] [Oxbow USA].

Caroline continues:
'Menippus calls himself the swallow'
(The Herald in The Birds by Aristophanes)

Here in Britain, the RSPB Birdwatch 30 has been much on our minds this past weekend, so it seemed a good idea to take a different slant on the avian theme. You can see my recent sightings on my 'Birdstack' in the right hand column of this blog. Incidentally, the Little Owl (Athene noctua) was named after the goddess of Athens and wisdom, Athene [aka Athena]. Did you know about the origin of the phrase 'owls to Athens'?

Further reading
  • Aristophanes' Birds, a book by Nan Dunbar [Clarendon Press] about The Birds, the comic play by Aristophanes, including a discussion on the different species (e.g. the quasi-bird character of the Hoopoe) in the script.
  • A Magical Tour of Ancient Greece - a travel diary by Classics student, Ellen Brundige.
  • Birds and beasts of the Greek Anthology by Norman Douglas (birds from p.68, beginning with the eagle).
  • The British Museum: Birds (2008, ed. Mavis Pilbeam). I spent a Christmas book token on this lovely book. It has a fine illustration of the Common Hoopoe by John White and an excerpt from The Swallow by Charlotte Smith.
  • What would Hadrian Say? online poem about Athens by David Gill
  • Athens: an Art Deco house with an Acropolis view? (Times online)

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