This summer, I visited the Greek island of Naxos, where I came upon this wonderful temple dedicated to the goddess Demeter. The information panels at the site spoke of it as having evolved over centuries from a simple open-air cult site, to a fixed temple serving the surrounding villages and towns. This made me stop and think, taking a look at the surrounding terrain and scenery
It was built in the 6th century B.C. That’s a few centuries after the ‘events’ of The Illiad, or contemporary with them according to a few scholars. A site where local people would gather to slaughter animals, cook them over an open fire, pour wine on the ground, and direct entreaties to the goddess for a good harvest. Does the view look much different now than it did 2500 years or more ago? What a different relationship to the landscape those people had, compared to me, who flew into the country, flew to the island, and tooled about in an automobile. Those ancients never left the sight of the temple, most of them! Perched on a little bit of a rise, giving a view of the nurturing plains around. Just them, the land, and the all-seeing eyes of the goddess, whom they hoped to please with their offerings.
This digital reconstruction is pretty nice. The temple is of an unusual design, having a square plan, rather than the rectangular one used in the Parthenon and Greek temples the world over.