The chapel on the sea


Κύπριδος οὗτος ὁ χῶρος, ἐπεὶ φίλον ἔπλετο τήνᾳ,
αἰὲν ἀπ᾽ ἠπείρου λαμπρὸν ὁρῆν πέλαγος,
ὄφρα φίλον ναύτῃσι τελῇ πλόον ἀμφὶ δὲ πόντος
δειμαίνει, λιπαρὸν δερκόμενος ξόανον.

This is the haunt of Venus who loves to gaze over the bright sea
And comfort sailors with her sight
And all around the deep sea looks back at the statue sleek and gleaming
And trembles with delight.

Anth. Gr. 9.144

This beautiful poem by Anyte suggests the glimmering sea not only with by its meaning but it’s sound in Greek. Today you will often see small white chapels around the Greek coast which I imagine are direct descendants of the shrines of ancient times. The word for statue is xoanon which usually means a wooden statue. I can just imagine it polished with oil and gleaming in the sunshine looking out from some promontory and around the sea is blue and sparkling.

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