FAMILY NARRATIVES ABOUT FAMILIAL RELATIOSHIPS WITH ANCIENT OLYMPIA

In document My Story. Digital Storytelling across Europe for Social Cohesion (Page 163-167)

Andreas Moutsios-Rentzos

4. FAMILY NARRATIVES ABOUT FAMILIAL RELATIOSHIPS WITH ANCIENT OLYMPIA

In the following, we provide a summary of the three narratives, as included in the three stories.

Christopher’s story included the following

I Christopher, I am retired, and I will tell you my personal experience from my visit to ancient Olympia, one of the monuments of Greece belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

I am fortunate to be born in the provincial town of Amaliada, which is very close to ancient Olympia. However, the difficult economic conditions prevailing in Greece during the post-war period, stood in the way of visiting this sacred place in my childhood. But later, when I was a teenager, although I had won the scholarship in high school, I was forced to leave my studies to work. A few years later, I immigrated to Switzerland for ten years.

I first visited ancient Olympia in May 1990, on the occasion of the hospitality of an exceptional couple, my personal friends from Switzerland. I wanted to thank my guests, offering them a nice Excursion to a place that inspires and transmits values and universal ideals around the world.

When I arrived in ancient Olympia, I felt great pride. At last, I had the opportunity to experience the magic of space. No book Until then has imparted me such strong feelings about the importance of this heritage monument as my contact with space.

I felt awe and emotion even before entering in the archeological site, when I saw the monument of French philhellene Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Olympic Games in modern times! Who today’s philhellene would ask to bury his heart in ancient Olympia!!

Hermes holding the little Dionysus. The Hermes of Praxiteles is rightly characterized for perfection in its beauty and sculpture!!

Then we visited the archaeological site, the ancient stadium, which was the largest of ancient Greece! As you will see in the photos I keep, we had a lot of beautiful moments! We were photographed in the Temple of Zeus and Hera, in the gymnasium, in the place where the athletes of that time, in the Palestra, in the parliament, the seat of the house! There I felt once again a profound emotion, that I was there, after so many years abroad! A deep thrill to catch a chill! So, I have, in my heart, all the Olympic agony of the Greeks of that time.

I left with deep emotion engraved in my heart and I would advise those who want to visit this World Heritage Monument and togetherness to visit ancient Olympia. They will be unforgettable!

Christopher’s story links his own embodied, emotional experience of Olympia, his view of its importance with the whole world, now and then. His story is strongly autobiographical, linked with historical events and persons. It should be stressed that he is the only family protagonist in his story. Even, the use of “we” is used without a specific reference to family members: “my personal friends”, “my guests”. Christopher’s story is also characterised by the “old glory”, which seems to be general and not just about Greece. Christopher chooses to start and end his story with a reference to the World Heritage status of Olympia, which seems to further substantiate, to “objectify” his extremely valueing of the place.

The story of Greg, Christopher’s son, included the following

Hello, I am Greg and today I’ll tell you my personal experience from my visit to ancient Olympia.

I remember, therefore, that for many years, when I wanted to visit the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, everything was done at the last minute and I did not make it... Either because or I was sick on a school trip or because it’s just by the town where I grew up and I live and I had the excuse that it will eventually happen in the future. However, just before the devastating fires of 2007 I did it.

So, arriving at the archeological site, on his doorstep, I sensed his potential. At that time, I had read several things about Lykourgos, as well as King Ifito’s Sun, the first organizers of the Olympic Games. How impressed I was by the greatness of that idea! Could you imagine? Truce War!! Peace for all the cities of the then Greece! Culture, ideas, visions!! The goods are missing from modern Greece and from around the world!

The stadium, the Temple of Zeus, the Hermes of Praxiteles, the disk of the sacred truce and so many other beautiful exhibits that adorn the new museum is a wonderful legacy! I imagine the period of the Olympics, enemies and friends then, to leave the weapons and compete honestly in the track! Oh fair Play! I always do, when I think of the greatness of our ancestors! Unfortunately, no comment for us neo-Greeks!

I was immersed in my thoughts as I climbed the hill of Kronos. This lovely place with the Nice Grove. I was looking at the ancient stadium and imagining athletes and spectators cheering and applauding. Skull Place [A pan based on that “Kronos” sounds like “skull” in

Greek] after the devastating fires of 2007.

Awe and pride are the words for me in terms of ancient Olympia and for this sacred place.

Greg’s story shares many of the characteristics of his father’s story. His story is a one- person story, with no other protagonists. He shares the old glory view, but he is particularly focussed on Greece. Greg’s story is qualitatively differentiated in his linking history, culture, society with the natural environment. He explicitly mentions the 2007 fires, linking the sociocultural greatness with environmental and ecological values. Greg’s story transcends the anthropocentric view of Ancient Olympia to include the natural value of the place. Finally, Chris, the third-generation family member, included the following

My name is Chris, I am a high school student and I will tell you my personal experience from my visit to ancient Olympia.

It is true that every summer me and my parents visit various parts of Europe and Greece, but my particular impression has been made by the monument of Cultural heritage, ancient Olympia.

I first visited ancient Olympia when I was a student of the fourth grade. At first I said to myself: “We will see Stones again!!” but it didn’t exactly happen that way. The teachers told us it would be more of a game. Our teachers put in an educational program, which was very, very nice for us children. So we filled out models For ancient Olympia, we watched video, painted and did other things that were entertaining for us children.

A particular impression of the monuments was made by God Hermes, who held in his arms the little Dionysus. I was walking around this statue and I saw the perfection of the sculpture of this statue. My particular impression was made when I went to the ancient stadium too! There I fought in a race, as the men of that era fought naked for a wreath of wild olives, which was very honorable for them at the time. Also funny seemed to me when I and my classmates were imitating the statue of Peoniou’s victory. It was a very nice feeling to stretch our arms and legs like the statue!!

Days after this visit to ancient Olympia, it sounded in my mind the anthem of the Olympic Games with the lyrics of Kostis Palamas. In closing, let me read you some of the verses of this hymn:

“Ancient immortal Spirit, pure father; Of the beautiful, the great and the true; Come down, show yourself and go down here; To the glory of your own land and heaven... “

Chris’s story radically differs from the other two stories in that his family is actually present in his story. His experience of Ancient Olympia is a social event, including family, teachers, peers. However, the family is actually absent from the story itself. Chris’s story echoes the fact that his experience is a school experience: historical facts, the modern Olympic games hymn, references to sculpture, learning through activities etc. However, there is an important aspect of Chris’s story that was missing from the other two stories. Chris experienced an embodied experience with a sculpture: “It was a very nice feeling to stretch our arms and legs like the statue”. Importantly, for our study, his story included an embodied experience of the functional aspects Olympia: “I fought in a race, as the men of that era fought naked for a wreath of wild olives”. In a similar vein, he Chris’ story was

Christopher’s “seeing” and “photos” and Greg’s “seeing”, “climbing”, “imagining”. Chris linked himself to the specific individuals of the ancient era, radically transforming his lived experience with Ancient Olympia to include the individual ancient Greek athlete.

Some of these ideas are echoed in the reflections of all the participants, suggesting that the digital storytelling experience facilitating in realizing the family narratives: shared, communicative and family history. Some excerpts of the final phase of the study are included below:

It was amazing … This experience that my grandson described, because it was an experiential experience. I didn’t have the luck and opportunity to have this experience with my school in the post-war period, because our school at the time did not have these ideas, that we had to visit the museum and the archeological site of Olympia, to guide us and explain that each stone has its meaning and Every statue’s story. All these things were fortunate to be lived by my grandson.

We went to ancient Olympia as ordinary guests, with some special friends of mine from Switzerland. We felt proud of these fine masterpieces that conceal the whole history of ancient Greece.

It is a thing worthy of admiration for the heroism of these people, the Fair play, who fought without anything but with universal values and ideals that are lacking in our generation today.

Christopher’s reflections

Excellent exchange of experience today. You always have something to gain from the whole conversation.

It is wonderful that the French philhellene Pierre de Coubertin will leave his heart in ancient Olympia!

Maybe next time, which we will definitely meet as a family in the Archeological Site, I would have read more so that I know more about the history of my country. Knowing history … you learn better the future of your country.

I find it unacceptable that Greeks pay a ticket to get acquainted with and admire the cultural heritage of our ancestors. I believe that all Greeks should enter the museums and archaeological sites of our homeland for free.

Greg’s reflections

From digital narratives I learned that my grandfather wanted to visit ancient Olympia much earlier but could not because of the difficult conditions of that time.

I felt sorry when I heard from my grandfather that although he had won the scholarship, he was forced to leave his studies to work. I felt great sadness when I heard from my father calling the hill of Kronos “Skull place” after the Fires of 2007!

Games of ancient and modern Greece. I am very impressed by the idea of the truce of the Olympic Games, that is, the time when there was an Olympic Games all around the world peace!

Surely, in the future, when my friends come from abroad, I will show them in ancient Olympia, as my grandfather did.

Chris’s reflections It is evident in the above excerpts, that the sharing of the stories had a significant effect on the participants’ relationship with the place, importantly, mediated by their familial relationships. The core aspects of their stories seem to remain unchanged; especially for Christopher and Greg. Nevertheless, elements of identity development are evident in Chris’s reflections who seem to be the one who benefited the most from this experience (in accordance with his being an adolescent; Duke, Lazarus, & Fivush, 2008).

In document My Story. Digital Storytelling across Europe for Social Cohesion (Page 163-167)