Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Stylite once in residence

Greek Reporter has an interesting article about the remains of the Temple of Zeus in Athens and evidence that after it was sacked and fell into ruin a stylite had somehow created his perch on top of the ruined colonnade. I assume that the temple pillars were probably then half-buried in rubble rather than standing clear as in the photographs.

Those early photographs show what is interpreted as the stylite’s shelter before it was removed during nineteenth century restoration of the site. That is interpreted as a manipulation of the history and the heritage not just of the Temple itself but of the wider cultural construct of what it is to be Greece. The emphasis was on the Classical era, and later Byzantine, let alone Ottoman, features were discounted or removed in pursuit of a purified vision of the past - rather like the ruthless schemes adopted in Rome between the two World Wars to recover its Imperial past at the expense of anything that had been grafted on to it.

Looking at the photographs I am definitely of the view that such a prayer perch would definitely, definitely, not, were I ever to consider becoming a stylite, be for the vertiginous like myself …

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