It’s now Monday PM and we are in Selcuk, which is about 315 km East of Athens, and only about 55 Km SSE of Izmir.

And in spite of having to go back east to Afrodisias, and having to go through one of the towns where we tried to find a room yesterday, it was a great photo day.

Afrodisias was really nice—old Roman city with about 15,000 people living there, so baths, a theater, government buildings, open spaces for markets (agoras), a big temple (to Aphrodite) and entry gates.

I remember one of the Joseph Campbell/Bill Moyers conversations on PBS about mythology and its power and longevity— with modern religions just putting a new coat on all the old stuff and calling it theirs.

Like the Catholics saying to the Central and South American peasants that they had to dump all those hundreds of old pagan deities, being part of the cult of the devil (or some other nonsense like that), but we have got hundreds of saints for you to (almost) worship, and that’s much better.

So all our hundreds of little godlets are sooooo much better than all your scorned little pagan deities. . . . .

So it goes.

Anyway, Campbell was saying that the traditionalists always want to go back to a supposedly better, cleaner, earlier, purer time: witness the revival song, Give Me That Old-Time Religion.

Well, one of Campbell’s graduate students put some new words to the music, and one of the verses was this:

I wanna go back to Aphrodite,

She’s powerful and mighty.

She never wears a nightie,

And she’s good enough for me

So the temple was to her, and the city and all the rest grew up around it.

As Kim wrote in her report recently, there are thermal springs all over the mountains of Western Turkey so it’s no surprise there are temples everywhere, connected to the springs.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert