Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sic transit gloria mundi

“When the booty had been gathered together, a tenth of the whole was set apart for the Delphian god, and, from this, was made the golden tripod which stands on the three-headed bronze serpent nearest the altar.” Herodotus

It’s early afternoon and the square is crowded. An insatiable horde of tourists takes possession of Istanbul. After Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, five minutes are now dutifully allocated to immortalize the instant when they walk over the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The impossibly old Egyptian obelisks are the undisputed stars of the relentless ritual but today, the heretic in me prefers the solitude and the shade.

I make a tactical retreat but before leaving the square, I notice the broken column. Avoided by the cloud of tourists and under siege by a sea of cigarette butts and plastic bottles, it casts a simple but dignified silhouette. My curiosity takes over and I read the inscription that identifies it as the Serpent Column (Greek Τρικάρηνος Όφις (trans. Trikarenos Ophis), part of an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod built to commemorate the victory over the Persian Empire at the Battle of Plataea (479 BC). Continue reading

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