The Riding Goddess of Mycenae

“In the summer of 1954, while Dr. Papademetriou and I were investigating the new Grave Circle of Mycenae, we removed the fill to the south of that circle; it proved to have been the dump of a previous excavation. Its position seems to indicate that in all probability it was made up of earth removed either by Mme Schliemann or by Tsountas from the dromos of the Tomb of Clytemnestra. Among other objects found in this earth were two carved gems, one of which bears the figure of an animal, and the other a design not only interesting for its excellence of its workmanship but also important because of the subject represented,” wrote archaeologist George Mylonas in the introduction of his book Ancient Mycenae: The Capital City of Agamemnon (Princeton 1957).

Tomb of Clytemnestra, 1953. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Katherine Biddle More Scrapbook.


The Accidental Discovery of Grave Circle B

The Tomb of Clytemnestra had been robbed by Veli Pasha, the Ottoman Governor of the Morea, in the early 19th century; he had, however, missed the dromos. Years later, in 1876, it was cleared by Sophia Schliemann, while her husband Heinrich was digging the shaft graves of Grave Circle A. The Tomb was properly excavated by Christos Tsountas in 1897, who conducted excavations at Mycenae from 1886 until 1902. After WW II, the Greek Archaeological Service undertook the restoration of the Tomb of Clytemnestra, which, by then, was falling apart and needed urgent care. The restoration, which started in the spring of 1951, was completed by the fall of that year.

George Mylonas, ca. 1957. Photo: ASCSA Archives, George Mylonas Papers.

While recreating the mound that once covered the Tomb, the workmen discovered fragments of funerary plaques (stelai), some of which were still standing. A rescue excavation below one of the plaques revealed a shaft grave very similar to the ones that Schliemann had excavated in 1876. John Papademetriou (1904-1963), Ephor of Argolid, went back to the site in November of 1951, this time in the company of George Mylonas (1898-1988), who was on a sabbatical leave from Washington University at Saint Louis. (For Mylonas, also read “The Spirit of St. Louis Lives in Athens, Greece.” The two men knew each other well from the time when they were studying archaeology at the University of Athens, as students of Christos Tsountas (1857-1934). A careful examination of the area around the newly discovered shaft grave revealed the existence of a second grave circle dating to the 17th/16th centuries B.C.

The Athens Archaeological Society decided to conduct a systematic excavation in the following year (1952), assigning the direction of the project to Papademetriou and Mylonas. In terms of finds it yielded, the excavation of Grave Circle B proved as rewarding as that of Grave Circle A in 1876; more importantly, however, the shaft graves of the new Circle were dug and recorded in a careful and systematic manner, using the latest recording methods: Demetrios Theocharis (who would later direct important excavations himself) made detailed plans and drawings, Lawrence Angel, one of the most famous physical anthropologists of his generation, studied the skeletal remains, while Nikolaos Tombazis, an accomplished photographer, was assigned the photographic documentation of the dig.

John Papademetriou and Demetrios Theocharis, Mycenae 1953. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Katherine Biddle More Scrapbook.

Archaeology, however, is an ever evolving and expanding discipline that follows closely the latest technological advances. About sixty years later, in 2015, the excavation of another shaft grave (that of the Griffin Warrior), this time at Pylos, would have stunned Mylonas and Papademetriou —were they alive— not only by the richness of its content but also by the recording and analytical methods that excavators Jack L. Davis and Sharon Stocker had at their disposal and applied to their dig: from photogrammetry, reflectance transformation imaging (RTI), and X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF), to palaeobotany, micromorphology, sediment analysis, and DNA analysis — just to to name a few.

A Modern Mycenaean Feast

Nikolaos Tombazis’s photos were included in the books and articles that followed the excavation of Grave Circle B. After retiring from India where he worked for 30 years as a commercial representative of the Rallis Brothers firm, Tombazis (1894-1986), the father of architect Alexandros Tombazis, launched a new career as a free-lance photographer on archaeological excavations, including Mycenae. His rich photographic archive has been deposited at the Benaki Museum, which recently organized an exhibit in his honor, including photographs from India and Greece. Of the many included in the publications of Mylonas’s excavations at Mycenae, one, however, stands out, because it captures the entire excavation team in the summer of 1953: nineteen men, two puppies, and a tall girl with a bright smile, Katherine (Kate) Biddle, a student and classmate of Nike Mylonas at Vassar College. Sixty years later, Kate would inquire, through the good offices of Professor Kenneth Scott of Dartmouth College, if the American School would be interested in acquiring an album of hers with photos from the excavations at Mycenae. (See also my essay in Akoue 62, Spring 2010, p. 15.)

Mycenae 1953. The excavation team that dug Grave Circle B. Front row, center: Kate Biddle, George Mylonas, Nikolaos Tombazis, John Papademetriou (behind Tombazis) and Demetrios Theocharis (with hat). Photo: ASCSA Archives, Katherine Biddle More Scrapbook.

When the album arrived in Athens, we were surprised to see that, in addition to   excavation photos, the album also contained a series of beautiful landscape photos of Mycenae by Tombazis, as well as several images recording casual moments at the dig, such as the big feast that celebrated the end of the excavation, an event vividly remembered by Biddle. More in her note that accompanied the album:

“At the end of August or early September, when the dig was finished for the year, we had a Homeric feast in one of the tholos tombs near the citadel. The roof of the tomb had long ago collapsed and the debris had been cleared away. Two long tables were set up and a lamb was roasted on a spit over an open fire for several hours. When it was done we had a feast, with wine and other suitable things (salad? grapes? bread, surely) …  One workman stood guard at the circle of graves, as they were still open, with many of the contents in situ. During the feast he came running to Drs. Mylonas and Papadimitriou and reported that some German tourists were walking in the circle of graves, refusing to understand his urgent signals that they were not allowed to be there. Of course he didn’t speak German, and they pretended not to understand his communications. Dr. Papadimitriou ran back up to the site and, in German, angrily ordered the intruders to get out, with heated remarks about having had enough of Germans during the occupation of Greece in World War II.” (Let me add here that Papademetriou was fluent in German, having received his PhD from the Humboldt University  in Berlin, in 1935.)

 

Mycenae 1953. A Modern Mycenaean Feast in the Lion’s Tomb. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Katherine Biddle More Scrapbook.

Mycenae 1953. Dancing in the Lion’s Tomb. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Katherine Biddle More Scrapbook.


The Riding Goddess

To return to one of the two carved gems that Mylonas and Papademetriou found in the summer of 1954, while removing the old excavation fill from near the Tomb of Clytemnestra. Of clear chalcedony, lentoid in shape (0.026 x 0.025 m), the 13th century B.C. gem (NAM 8718) depicts a female figure with raised arms, dressed in Minoan fashion (with a tight girdle and exposed breasts) riding side-saddle on a mythical animal, which has the muscular body of a lion and the head of a wild horse, over waves of the sea. To the modern viewer the scene is reminiscent of the classical myth of “Europa on the Bull.”

Drawing of the Riding Goddess seal from Mycenae. Found in 1954.

A year after Mylonas published the gem, and in the aftermath of Michael Ventris’s decipherment of Linear B and Carl Blegen’s discovery of Nestor’s Palace at Pylos (what a decade for Mycenaean archaeology!), Emily Townsend Vermeule (1928-2001) included the gem in an article titled “Mythology in Mycenaean Art” (Classical Journal 54:3, 1958, pp. 97-108; for a list of Mycenaean images of riding goddesses with previous bibliography, also see Bernard C. Dietrich, The Origins of Greek Religion,  pp. 310-313). Vermeule argued that many classical myths, including that of “Europa on the Bull,” stemmed from sources with a Mycenaean foundation, having assumed their classical form “by corruption, distortion and ignorance” (p. 105). Vermeule, too, would have been happily stunned at the recent discovery of the so-called “Pylos Combat Agate” in the Griffin Warrior Tomb, a chalcedony gem that has “all the grandiosity of scenes like the Greek epics The Iliad and The Odyssey” according to its excavators.

While Mylonas discovered several engraved gems during his excavations at Mycenae, the riding goddess held a special place in his mind and heart. He used it for letterhead and had it also carved on a plaque that adorns the tympanum of the Mycenae Melathron (built in 1967-1972 by Mylonas to serve as the summer base of the Mycenae excavation team, and as an archaeology research center for Greek and foreign scholars).

Lela and George Mylonas in front of the Mycenae Melathron, ca. 1970. Photo: ASCSA Archives, George Mylonas Papers.

It was also recently employed on a commemorative marble plaque at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), set at the top of the passage that leads to the New Wiener Lab. To facilitate access, the narrow alley between the Davis Wing and the School’s stone compound wall was recently refurbished, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Landscape architect Konstantinos Doxiadis transformed the old dirt path into a broad passage with flower beds of rosemary and Japanese pittosporum (“αγγελικούλες”) flanking one of its long sides. The donor also wanted to commemorate George Mylonas and his family with a plaque. What better way to honor him than with the imagery from his favorite gem. In Mycenae: Rich in Gold, Mylonas describes the riding goddess as θεά της ευλογίας (the blessing goddess). Whether she had really blessed his life is another story. Mylonas, nevertheless, believed that she had.

Commemorative plaque in honor of George Mylonas and his family at the ASCSA, 2018.


Note
I would like to thank Jack Davis, Jeff Banks, and Jeff Kramer for tracking down the gem’s CMS number (#167) and for directing me to Mylonas’s Ancient Mycenae.

Abbreviations
NAM: National Archaeological Museum
CMS: Corpus der Minoischen and Mykenischen Siegel


“Anything to restrain the reverend father”: Catholic Clergy at the ASCSA, Pt. II

Posted by Dylan Rogers

Dylan Rogers holds a PhD from the University of Virginia, and he has been Assistant Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens since 2015. This essay, the second of two parts, was inspired by recent research in the ASCSA Archives about the Summer Session program.


In my last post, I began an exploration of members of the Catholic clergy at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School). My curiosity was piqued by the acerbic comments of Gertrude E. Smith who was not in favor of selecting Fr. Schoder to lead the School’s summer program in 1961. Was the School against admitting Catholic priests and nuns in its programs or was Smith’s dislike of Fr. Schoder personal and exceptional?

Part I examined the figure of Fr. Quinn, an accomplished scholar of Ancient and Modern Greek at the turn of the 20th century. Subsequent to Fr. Quinn ten more priests attended the School’s regular program. In addition, the SS has hosted at least 16 priests and nuns, from 1936 until 1973. The clergy came from a variety of orders, including parish priests, Benedictines (O.S.B.), a De La Salle brother (F.S.C.), a Sister of Mercy (R.S.M.), a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.), a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur (S.N.D. de Namur), and two Sisters of St. Joseph (C.S.J.). But, by far, most of the priests (nearly 18) came from the Society of Jesus (S.J.), or the Jesuit order. And there were a number of interesting figures in this group, such as Fr. Thomas Bermingham, S.J. (1918-1998), a professor at Georgetown University, who had taught William Peter Blatty, the author of The Exorcist, Latin at Brooklyn Prep in the 1940s. Fr. Bermingham would later advise Blatty on the filming of The Exorcist, and eventually would play Tom, the president of Georgetown, in the film.

Fr. Thomas Bermingham, student at the ASCSA in 1961-62, as President of Georgetown University in The Exorcist.

Many of the priests were students of Classics with strong foundations in ancient languages, and they wished to come to the School to conduct doctoral research or to improve their knowledge of the Classical world for their own teaching in America. Fr. Charles Buckley, S.J., was a student of the School in 1951-1952. In his correspondence with Gertrude Smith about School membership, Fr. Buckley apparently had not mentioned his attainments in Latin, but Smith stated that “it is unbelievable that he has gone through Jesuit training without a large content of Latin. I have no doubt that he is well equipped in that language” (AdmRec, box 1001/3, folder 18, 9 May 1951). John L. Caskey, Director of the ASCSA, replied to Smith: “If a Jesuit should prove not to know Latin we’d better shut our doors and seek other employment!” (AdmRec, box 1001/3, folder 18, 14 May 1951).

Fr. Edward Bodnar. Source: Georgetown University Jesuit Community.

The School’s first Gennadeion Fellow in 1963-1964 was Fr. Edward Bodnar, S.J. (1920-2011), based primarily in the Classics Department at Georgetown University (for more see Keesling 2012). Fr. Bodnar, who devoted his entire life to researching Cyriac of Ancona, must have known of the School through his personal relationship with Homer Thompson, director of the Athenian Agora Excavations. Thompson’s papers in the ASCSA Archives reveal a correspondence that started as early as 1956 and continued to at least 1996. The two certainly met for the first time at Princeton, where Fr. Bodnar was completing his degree and Thompson was a faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Study. Indeed, the two must have forged a strong bond, as Fr. Bodnar would spend, after 1960, a great deal of time at the Institute, especially during summers. Thompson would also support Fr. Bodnar’s tenure and rise to full professorship at Georgetown University in 1970. An excerpt from Thompson’s letter of support for Fr. Bodnar’s tenure speaks volumes:

“Lest anyone infer that Dr. Bodnar’s concentration on Cyriac implies a narrow outlook I should like to emphasize the breadth of his training, knowledge and interest. He is at home in the literature, the history, the art and archaeology of both the Greek and Roman periods. The wide knowledge of the ancient world, coupled with intensive travels, has resulted in a personality of great urbanity. Add to this a genuine liking for people and the result must be an effective teacher” (Homer A. Thompson Papers, Box 4, Folder 7, 16 March 1970).

By emphasizing Fr. Bodnar’s scholarly breadth and not once mentioning anything about his affiliation with the Catholic Church, it would be safe to assume that there was really no discernable bias against Catholics, at least from one of the School’s leading figures. I now turn my attention to Fr. Raymond Schoder, who received the ire of Smith in that fated letter (see my earlier post).

Fr. Raymond Schoder: The Outlier

One of the most colorful priests to have come through the School’s doors was certainly Fr. Raymond Schoder, S.J. (1916-1987). Fr. Schoder, who entered the Jesuit order in 1933, began his training at West Baden College (Indiana), earning a BA in 1938 and a MA in 1940. He proceeded then to St. Louis University to complete a PhD in 1944, with a dissertation entitled, “The Classical Canons of Literary Character Portrayal” (Bolchazy 1994, 570). Fr. Schoder was also one of the co-authors of A Reading Course in Homeric Greek in 1945-1946 (Sutton and Creighton 1989). In 1947, Fr. Schoder was ordained as a priest.

Fr. Raymond Schoder. Source: Sutton 1989.

During the 1949-1950 academic year, Fr. Schoder was a junior fellow at the School. In the Annual Report for that year, it was reported that “Rev. R.V. Schoder has travelled widely with the School and alone, contributing his full share whenever reports were called for. He is an expert photographer and has been collecting a large series of lantern slides in color for use in teaching” (AR 69 (1949-1950) 29). That year, Fr. Schoder would also meet his later nemesis, Gertrude Smith, who was one of the School’s annual professors.

After his year at the School, Fr. Schoder returned to West Baden College, where he taught Greek and Latin from 1951-1959. In a letter to Caskey, upon his return to Indiana, Fr. Schoder confided that life seemed slow-moving after eight busy months in Greece. He also reflected on the importance of his year in Greece:

“Anyhow, I have that Greek background to draw upon, and it will mean a great deal to me and my students. […] I will always remember my year in Greece as a most memorable experience, and one fully enjoyed. […] I am among your enrollment boosters. […] I trust that you have had a good year, with a cooperative group and decent weather. Still, nobody should be allowed to leave Greece without knowing the unique merits of Boeotian mud; however, little danger of missing that” (AdmRec, box 1001/3, folder 18, 28 February 1951).

He also promises to act as an ‘enrollment booster.’ Indeed, just a few months after that letter, a Rev. Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., who was then in Rome, inquired about membership at the ASCSA in May of 1951, which “should be a good season as Fr. Schoder, S.J., assured” him (AdmRec, box 1001/3, bolder 18, February-March 1951). And throughout the years, there are indirect clues that Fr. Schoder promoted membership at the School, especially among his students and other Catholic clerics.

Fr. Schoder, however, was not limited to working in Greece. For seven summers, he directed the Vergilian Society’s Summer Study Tours at the Villa Vergiliana at Cumae for seven summers (1953-1957, 1961, 1965; “Participants in the Summer Study Tours” 1988, pp. 96-98, 101, 103). In addition, he helped to reestablish the summer programming for the Vergilian Society, which had lapsed during and after World War II. He often fought against harsh odds, including “rapacious custodians, surly and dishonest cooks, lethargic officialdom in Naples, collapsing fabric at Cumae, and the trials with the water supply,” believing that the mission of taking students around these ancient sites was of utmost importance (McKay 1987, 4).

Fr. Schoder repeatedly wrote to Caskey asking to have the Cumae program included in the ASCSA program (e.g., AdmRec, box 1001/4, folder 6, 11 April 1953; and box 1001/5, folder 8, 25 January 1957). But the response of the School to Fr. Schoder’s programs at Cumae was generally not favorable. From 1960 on, Fr. Schoder expressed interest in leading a Summer Session (SS) at the ASCSA.  Gertrude Smith’s response was not positive. The next year, while in the process to appoint a new director for the SS, deciding between Alan Boegehold and Charles Alexander Robinson, Smith made it clear to the Chairman of the Managing Committee, Alfred Bellinger, that they had to decide between those two candidates:

“Anything to restrain the reverend father. I had a report from a former student of mine of his conduct of the Cumae school this summer and it was anything but favorable—no encouragement toward fun or hilarity, prominence of Roman Catholicism with stupid remarks about ‘non-Catholics’, many minor acts that lacked consideration. I certainly do not wish to destroy what we have built up”(AdmRec, box 106/1, folder 3, 23 September 1961).

Reports such as this certainly colored Smith’s perception of Fr. Schoder’s ability to lead a SS for the ASCSA, even though the two had known each other for over a decade at that point.

Fr. Schoder would end up at Loyola University Chicago in 1960—until his retirement in 1981. In 1961-1962, Fr. Schoder was an Annual Professor at the ASCSA. For his seminar at the School that year, he taught a course entitled, “Ancient Sources on the History of Greek Sculpture and Painting,” which combined his training in philology (focusing on readings of Pliny, Philostratus, and Callistratus) and his passion for archaeology (AdmRec, Box 109/1, Folder 2).

One of the most significant contributions of Fr. Schoder to the field of Classical Studies was his aerial photography, which he began in the early 1960s, and culminated in his book, Ancient Greece from the Air (1974). With his training in photography, he was able to convince the Greek Air Force to fly him around Greece to take low lying (oftentimes at around 1000 feet) shots (in color) of ancient sites. With the rear door of the DC-3 airplanes open, Fr. Schoder would be strapped in, juggling a camera with four different lenses to capture the sites (Schoder 1974, 11-13; Dow 1989, 19-20). In 1962, Fr. Schoder made his first flight with the Air Force, which was connected to his time as an Annual Professor at the ASCSA (AdmRec, box 109/1, folder 2, Statement of Study Project of Schoder, S.J., for 1962). Most of the photographs that Fr. Schoder took for the book were actually completed in 1967 and 1968, in a series of 13 flights that lasted 5-7 hours each. It is reported that Fr. Schoder would often get airsick, which makes the success of these flights particularly relevant (private comm. with Jack Davis, 6 April 2017). Through Ancient Greece from the Air scholars and students were able to see shots of sites throughout Greece, which were rarely seen—particularly in color (Dow 1989, 19). Fr. Schoder made a point in various correspondences on the project that the photographs were also for the benefit of the wider archaeological community, especially his Greek counterparts, such as those in the Archaeological Service (AdmRec, box 109/1, folder 2, 10 November 1972; Dow 1989, 19).

Fr. Schoder photographing from an airplane. Source: Sutton 1989.

There is one final story to tell of Fr. Schoder: “Our Miserable, Inhumane Treatment in Greece” (AdmRec, box 109/1, folder 2, 8 September 1984). In June and July of 1984, Fr. Schoder led a tour group from Chicago around Greece on a yacht. Despite having noticed some problems with the condition of the boat initially in Athens, the group journeyed to Crete. While docked in the port of Herakleion, with most of the group out site seeing, the yacht caught fire and sunk in the harbor. Two of the American passengers were noticed to have been on board before the incident; they were immediately taken into custody and charged with arson. For nearly a month, the couple was detained in a Cretan jail, while Fr. Schoder fought on their behalf to get them out of jail and to have the charges dropped. The authorities of the time (remember, this was a period of great anti-Americanism in Greece) did not seem to listen to the evidence of expert testimony that Fr. Schoder was able to obtain on the couple’s behalf, prompting Fr. Schoder to send a scathing letter to the Greek Ambassador to the US, the US State Department, the Greek National Tourist Organization, and the Greek Consul General of Chicago, upon the release of the American couple. Fr. Schoder painfully asked: “Not only my testimony, but these experts’ reports were ignored—because they were favorable to the accused foreigners, perhaps?? This is Greek justice, in which visitors to the country of Aristotle and Solon are supposed to place their trust and security?” (AdmRec, box 109/1, folder 2, 8 September 1984). Ever the showman, Fr. Schoder invoked his occupation as a priest with the couple: “Finally, they both solemnly swore to me, a priest, in the name of God, with their hands on a Bible, that they did not cause the fire, or scheme to do so” (AdmRec box 109/1, folder 2, 8 September 1984).

One of Fr. Schoder’s aerial photos (the theater of Epidauros) on the fireplace mantel of an administrative office at the ASCSA.

Fr. Schoder was a consummate self-promoter. Countless numbers of people have commented on his ability to talk about his own accomplishments. In his Eulogy of Fr. Schoder, Fr. Robert Wild, S.J., said, responding to the fact that Schoder had authored eight books, 94 articles, 65 book reviews, and given 1500 lectures:

“We must ask, what was the driving force that kept Ray so busy and so active? Part of it, to be sure, was his own need for fame and recognition. He wanted his accomplishments known, and he himself very lovingly kept the statistics that I listed above. I suspect that he perhaps was a little bit afraid that if he himself did not remind us of the things that he had done, we might think that he was not contributing all that much. No chance of that! If Ray Schoder never had spoken a word, his many works would speak for themselves” (Wild 1989, 10).

Indeed, Fr. Schoder was prolific and dedicated to the field as a whole, and he let everyone know the fact. Indeed, this is where Smith was concerned with Fr. Schoder, despite their long-lasting relationship that was cordial in person, but more decisive in her private correspondence. Certainly she was reacting to his self-promotion—and maybe this was the largest part of her distaste for Fr. Schoder. But academics are often known for not being the most modest of human beings. Yet, does the collar of the Roman Catholic Church require a priest to be modest? Priests are certainly not above venial sins. Regardless of what comes down to us through the ASCSA Archives, it is clear that Fr. Schoder not only was a driving force to ensure that other Catholic clerics enjoyed the School, but he also wanted to advance the field of Classics (through various outlets) to the wider archaeological community in Greece and beyond.

Vatican II & the ASCSA

One last point should be made about the presence of Roman Catholic clergy at the ASCSA. The Second Vatican Council, the third worldwide ecumenical congress called by the Catholic Church since the Reformation, lasted from 1962-1965. While no doctrinal changes were made to the Church, the experience of the Church was modernized throughout the world through measures such as masses being not being offered in Latin but in modern languages.

There are clues that in the time before Vatican II, the rules of the Church impacted the lives of students at the School. Gertrude Smith would try to help Catholic students:

“In the two sessions which I have done I have had each time four or five Roman Catholics, but I could usually control that and get them meatless meals when they had to have them and get them to places where they could get to church on time and so on” (AdmRec, box 106/1, folder 3, 26 October 1960).

While Vatican II might not have caused the religious behavior of students to change drastically, they might have felt less inclined to adhere to its strict rules while traveling throughout Greece during their time at the School.

Further, there was an increase of Catholic clergy during the ASCSA Summer Sessions (SS), especially of nuns, after 1965. Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Director of the Summer Session for 1967 and a Roman Catholic herself, reported:

“The 1967 Session included a Roman Catholic nun among its members. Sister [Mary Joseph] Carton [B.V.M.] proved to be one of the greatest assets to the group: her cheerful attitude, her sense of humor, her ‘humanity’ were difficult to match. Though in her early fifties, she climbed and tracked with the youngest, and her modernized religious habit did not cause greater impediment than any common skirt. Although other nuns had been admitted to the Summer School in the past, none had ever actually attended because of the restrictive rules imposed on them by the Roman Catholic Church. It is encouraging to note that such rules have now been relaxed and permit full participation of the religious in the Summer program”(AR 87 (1967-1968) 64).

The relaxation of the strict rules of the Church, the product of Vatican II, finally allowed nuns to participate fully in the rigorous summer programming of the School.

Afterthoughts

I began my research intent to discover any bias within the ASCSA against Catholic clergy, especially given Smith’s often disparaging comments about Fr. Schoder. But he seems to be the outlier. Indeed, Smith, in correspondence with Caskey about Fr. Buckley, reveals that fact:

“I suppose we cannot expect all Jesuit priests to give as much color to the School as Father Schoder did, but I have found them always well trained and very serious students who get the most out of what is offered” (AdmRec, box 1001/3, folder 18, 9 May 1951).

Catholic priests and nuns were well qualified, with a strong background in philology, and flourished at the School. For many of them the School’s emphasis on archaeology opened up new worlds, altering their careers and ministries. And many had clearly heard about the School through other priests who had attended the program(s). In the end, the Catholic priests and nuns that came to the ASCSA, as students and scholars, were admitted based on their training and aptitude in the Classics, without any discernible bias towards their vocations.


Addendum: Catholic Clergy of the ASCSA (after Meritt 1984)

Allen, Sister Marjorie E., R.S.M.  (S1973)
Baxter, Rev. Robert S., S.J. (S1967)
Benda, Rev. Frederick J., S.J.  (S1969)
Bermingham, Rev. Thomas S., S.J.  (1961-1962)
Bodnar, Rev. Edward W., S.J. (1963-1964)
Buckley, Rev. Charles E., S.J.  (1951-1952)
Carton, Sister Mary Joseph, B.V.M  (S1967)
Christie, Rev. Frederick, S.J. (S1973)
Evans, Frances Taylor  S1936 (Sister Margaret Thérèse, S.N.D. de Namur)
Felton, Rev. John N., S.J.   (S1955)
Festle, Rev. John Edward, S.J. (S ?)
Fuerst, Rev. Barholomew, O.S.B.  (S1954)
Gerdes, Sister Florence Marie, C.S.J. (S1973)
Grimaldi, Rev. William M.A., S.J.  (1953-1954)
Infantino, Rev. Stephen S., S.J.  (S1970)
Kolar, Rev. Basil Charles, Benedectine  (1932-1933)
McCauley, Rev. Leo P., S.J.  (1947-1948)
Miller, Rev. Edward F., S.J.  (1976-1978)
Mitchell, Sister Eileen, C.S.J.  (S1973)
Moan, Rev. Francis X., S.J.  (S1965)
O’Neil, Rev. John J., S.J.  (1964-1965)
Quinn, Daniel  (1887-1889, 1892-1893, 1900-1902)
Ruegg, Brother S. Dominic, F.S.C.  (S1956)
Schlatter, Rev. Frederick William, S.J.  (S1961)
Schoder, Rev. Raymond V., S.J.  (1949-1950, 1972-1973)
Taylor, Rev. John H., S.J. (S1952)
Walter, Sister Maria  (S1971)
Yumont, Rev. Alphonsus Charles, S.J.  (S1962)


Works Cited: 

AdmRec: ASCSA Archives, Administrative Records

Bolchazy, L.J. 1994. “Schoder, S.J., Fr. Raymond Victor.” In Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists, ed. W.W. Briggs, pp. 569-570. Westport, CT.

Dow, S. 1989. “Father Schoder and Ancient Greece from the Air,” in Sutton 1989, pp. 13-28.

Keesling, C. 2012. “Edward W. Bodnar (1920-2011).” The Classical World 105.4, pp. 553-554.

McKay, A.G. 1987. “RAYMOND VICTOR SCHODER, S.J. 11 April 1916, Battle Creek MI, 1 May 1987, Chicago IL.” Vergilius 33, pp. 3-5.

Meritt, L.S. 1984. History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1939-1980. Princeton.

“Participants in the Summer Study Tours, 1937-1987.” 1988. Vergilius Suppl. 3, pp. 95-119.

Schoder, R.V. 1974. Ancient Greece from the Air. London.

Schoder, R.V. and V.C. Horrigan. 1945-1946. A Reading Course in Homeric Greek. Ann Arbor.

Sutton, R.F. (ed) 1989. Daidalikon: Studies in Memory of Raymond V. Schoder, S.J. Wauconda, IL.

Sutton, R.F., and M. Creighton. 1989. “Bibliography of Raymond V. Schoder, S.J,” in Sutton 1989.

Wild, R.A. 1989. “In Memoriam Raymond V. Schoder, S.J.: A Homily Delivered at the Funeral Mass of Father Schoder, May 5, 1987,” in Sutton 1989, pp. 9-11.


“If a Jesuit should prove not to know Latin we’d better shut our doors!”: Catholic Clergy at the ASCSA, Pt. I

Posted by Dylan Rogers

Dylan Rogers holds a PhD from the University of Virginia, and he has been Assistant Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens since 2015. The essay he contributes to “From the Archivist’s Notebook” was inspired by recent research in the ASCSA Archives about the Summer Session program.


Fr. Raymond Schoder, S.J. (1916-1987)

Last summer, I began researching the life of Professor Gertrude Smith at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School), particularly in her role as Chairman of the Committee on Admissions and Fellowships. (On Smith see D. Rogers, “Gertrude Smith: A Classic American Philhellene.“) Smith guided the selection process of students during the Academic Year and the Summer Session (SS) deftly for nearly 20 years (1945-1963). Delving into her correspondence with various people associated with the School, I was struck by one letter in particular, as she was discussing Fr. Raymond Schoder, S.J. (1916-1987), and his desire to be a SS Director at the School in 1961:

I wonder with him just what the Roman Catholic situation would be. Don’t think I have anything against the R.C.’s. I haven’t, but I do not want the summer session turned into an adjunct of the church, and, if he once does the school, I foresee an avalanche for that particular summer of applicants for that particular summer of applicants from people who have used his dratted Homeric Greek books and who will be urged by their priest or nun teachers to take the session when they can have it under his guidance. In the two sessions which I have done I have had each time four or five Roman Catholics, but I could usually control that and get them meatless meals when they had to have them and get them to places where they could get to church on time and so on. But we do not want the summer session dependent of the Roman Catholic church, and I think it might be if Father S. were leading around people, the majority of whom were R.C.’s. (ASCSA ADM REC Series 100, Box 106/1, Folder 3, 26 October 1960)

Did this mean that the School, as a whole, had a bias against Roman Catholics? Certainly this would not be unheard of in American academic circles. Even as late as 1977, Catholic priests were still noticing a bias in academia, which stemmed from deep-roots in America against Catholics (particularly immigrants from Catholic countries of Europe, creating a so-called nativism, or bias, in society). Fr. Andrew Greeley noted that people often told him not to wear his collar, or he would not be taken as serious as his lay counterparts. Indeed, he questioned:

Is the nativism in education conscious or unconscious? I suppose the best answer is that it doesn’t matter. Those who ask, Isn’t Catholicism incompatible with independent intellectual activity? might as well be asking, Isn’t it true that blacks have a distinctive body odor? Or, Isn’t it true women are happier at home raising children? The person who asks the question is prejudiced whether or not he knows it. (Greeley 1977, 43)

Further, the School has been noted for occasionally making less-than-polite comments about religious groups outside of Protestantism, particularly Judaism. In correspondence in the early twentieth century, if an applicant was Jewish, oftentimes that was noted in their files (See J. L. Davis, “A Preamble to the Nazi Holocaust in Greece: Two Micro-Histories from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.”) While this did not hinder students and scholars of Jewish origin from coming to the School, it is disconcerting to a modern academic audience that such issues would indeed be brought up.

So I began to go back through the Archives to see if there were any anti-Catholic tendencies in the School’s past, as Smith’s letter of 1960 had the potential to suggest. What I did find was a fascinating history of Catholic religious figures (of both genders) coming to the School as students and scholars and flourishing. Almost from the beginning of the School’s foundation in 1881, Catholic clergy had been part of our history, with the first Catholic priest in 1887-1889, Fr. Daniel Quinn.

Fr. Daniel Quinn: An Overt Philhellene

Daniel Quinn (1861-1918) completed his A.B. and M.A. at Mount St. Mary’s College (Maryland) in 1883 and 1886 respectively. Fr. Quinn would then go to the ASCSA as a student from 1887-1889. At the School, he was reported to be one of the students that excelled in learning Modern Greek, while focusing on Greek philology, including research on topographical elements important in Greek mythology, such as the hills of the Aegiplanctus and the Arachneum (Annual Reports 7 (1887-1888), pp. 8 and 43-45; 8 (1888-1889), pp. 38-39). After two years in Athens, Fr. Quinn returned to the US, where he was subsequently appointed as a Professor of Greek at the newly established Catholic University of America in 1891. As was the custom in America at the time, Fr. Quinn was sent back to Europe to complete his PhD, working at the University of Berlin (1891-1892), and finishing his studies at the University of Athens in 1893 (Klingshirn 2016). Fr. Quinn’s dissertation was written in Modern Greek, and the subject of which was based on Christian epigraphy in Greece, evident in later articles he published (Quinn 1902).

Fr. Daniel Quinn. Photo: Catholic University of America, Archives.

Upon completion of his dissertation, Fr. Quinn returned to Catholic University, where he began to build up the Department of Greek and Latin. Around that time, he helped to establish the Washington Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (Klingshirn 2016). And it was clear that his love of Greece, especially its history and language, was a prominent part of his teaching at Catholic: “An overt philhellene, Quinn’s zeal was manifested in his spelling habits (Keramics, Mykenaean, Sophokles) and in his Academy of Hellenic Studies, which students were eligible to join upon completion of a thesis of four thousand words, written in Greek or Latin. In 1895-96, Academy discussions (to take place in Greek!) centered on Aristophanes’ Acharnians and Sophocles’ Antigone, and were reported in the quarterly in-house journal Deltion” (Klingshirn 2016).

Quinn continued at Catholic University until 1897, when he resigned his position, “dissatisfied with the University’s level of support for Greek studies” (Klingshirn 2016). In all likelihood, Fr. Quinn quit his post, because the university would not hire his brother as an instructor of Greek, despite the fact that there were only three students at the time (Nuesse 1990, 112). In a letter to John Gennadius of 27 December 1897, Fr. Quinn informed him of these new developments: “Since the time of my last writing to you I have undergone a number of changes of circumstances; I have resigned my professorship at the University, forced to do so by motives that appealed to my sense of duty and honor. This step brings with it a number of temporary loses; and I must begin life anew. I leave America for Greece early in February. There I shall study everything that pertains to Hellenism. I shall be among friends, I am sure” (Joannes Gennadius Papers, Box 10.3, Folder 3).

Indeed, it seems that Fr. Quinn made it back to Athens. There he continued to work on his studies of the Greek language, including a number of articles that appeared in American magazines—and later collected in a volume aptly titled, Helladian Vistas (Quinn 1908). From 1900-1902, Quinn was again a member of the ASCSA. In 1902, he was appointed the rector of the Leonteion (Lycée Léonin/Λεόντειο Λύκειο), on 4 Sina Street, which was originally established by Pope Leo XIII as a secondary school for children of Catholic parents in Greece and later acted as a Catholic seminary for Catholic priests of the Greek East (Quinn 1907; Quinn 1908, 40). (The Leonteion continues to operate today, in a different location, as a Marist Roman Catholic School, which has taught numerous Greeks, including the late Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos and the composer Vangelis.) Fr. Quinn returned to his birthplace of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he became the pastor of St. Paul’s Church there, in addition to being a professor at Antioch College there, until his death in 1918.

Lycée Léonin on 4 Sina. The building no longer exists. (See a wonderful video by Dimitris Tsalkanis here.)

It is apparent that Fr. Quinn was able to learn Modern Greek with ease and facility, given his background in classical languages. And this must have been case with a number of other students of the ASCSA in the 19th century, when Katharevousa (a form of Modern Greek developed in the 19th century as a cross between ancient Greek and Demotic Greek, and often spoken in literary and scholarly circles) was flourishing. Indeed, Fr. Quinn remarked that:

The stranger will find that if he is able to speak classical Greek he can, by using modern pronunciation, converse with any scholar in Greece. He will discover that Sokrates and Demosthenes would be understood by the literati who to-day frequent the club rooms of the Parnassos. (Quinn 1895, 70)

With his training as a scholar of Classical Greek and Modern Greek, Fr. Quinn was aptly in a place to write on the state of the Greek language at the turn of the 20th century. In 1901, in the US Bureau of Education’s “Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1899-1900,” Fr. Quinn, tracing the historic development of the Greek language, analyzed the “diglossy” phenomenon of the language, where both Katharevousa and Demotic Greek were spoken by the same people. Fr. Quinn, in his conclusion, stated that the rise of the Demotic was “a sign of the decay of the historical national consciousness and a bad omen for the future,” but the “Philhellene will always be glad to learn that [the Greeks] take a high and noble care of their historic tongue, and that they do not intend to let it wither itself out into a few interesting glossematic dialects” (Quinn 1901, 1319). I wonder what Fr. Quinn would think of the adoption in 1976 of Demotic as the national language of Greece, and the further abolition of the polytonic system in 1982.

“The soul is Hellenic”: On the Greek Education System

Because Fr. Quinn attended the University of Athens, attending lectures in Greek and writing a dissertation in Greek, he was familiar with the Greek education system. In a long article for the US Bureau of Education, Fr. Quinn traced the development of the Greek education system from its ancient origins until his time, particularly with the rise of the university system in Greece after the Greek War of Independence (Quinn 1898). In addition to using his own experiences at the University of Athens (and presumably discussing issues with his faculty), Fr. Quinn corresponded with Greeks who had ties to the education system of the time. One example is how Fr. Quinn reached out to John Gennadius, the Greek diplomat living in London and later would give his own personal library to the ASCSA, about Gennadius’ father, George Gennadius (George Gennadius Papers, Box 10.3, Folder 3). In their correspondence of 1897, John Gennadius provided Fr. Quinn with a concise biography of his father. Fr. Quinn would then later include it in his report, highlighting the fact that George Gennadius was instrumental through his own teaching in instilling in Greek youths of the early to mid-19th century a sense of patriotism for Greece (Quinn 1898, 290-291, 309, 332).

Excerpt of letter from Quinn to John Gennadius, Sept. 13, 1897. Photo: ASCSA Archives.

Fr. Quinn’s discussion of the Greek education system, especially after the independence of Greece from the Ottomans in the 1830s, illustrates how Greece at the time was at a crossroads, particularly in how they were going to build their new nation and educate its inhabitants. Indeed, early on in his discussion, he prompts readers that they will think that the education system has foreign influences, but is unique: “the outward form of modern Greek education is German and French in character, but the soul is Hellenic” (Quinn 1898, 267). A true philhellene himself, the text is full of various admirations of Greece and its people, in addition to its growing commitment to education. For example, in discussing education in the last years of Ottoman rule, Fr. Quinn describes the situation of the Parthenon:

Yea, within the very Parthenon itself a school was opened in the year 1824 for little tots of girls whose fathers were fighting the war of freedom. We love the Parthenon for its beauty; but it is more worthy of being loved on account of having been a shelter to education than because of being the Parthenon. (Quinn 1898, 295.)

Fr. Quinn, the product of higher education system in at least three different countries, was truly a proponent of the importance of education, particularly in the humanities. In his 1898 report on education, Fr. Quinn pardoned the famous Greek general of the War of Independence, Theodoros Kolokotronis: “Old Kolokotrones said on a certain important occasion that ‘books could not be used for better purposes than for gun wads.’ We forgive him, because Kolokotrones’s gunshots were intended to protect home and altar” (Quinn 1898, 295). But more broadly, Fr. Quinn argued in 1896 that higher education, especially from his viewpoint in the US, was to publicly educate a populace to help train new leaders. And the bedrock of such an education was the humanist tradition, and he still regarded “the philosophic and classic studies, which have created the modern university, as the studies best suited to remain its centre” (Quinn 1896, 21). Thus, with classics at the core of public education, we could build a society that was well equipped to better itself.

Fr. Quinn evidently loved practically every aspect of Greece, which began with his early education in Greek and Latin. And the ASCSA was Fr. Quinn’s entrée into the world of Athens and Greece—a point he never forgot. In his 1898 report on education, while he mentions the other foreign archaeological schools of the time, he naturally spent more time describing the mission of the ASCSA, as:

American archaeological or classical students and scholars visiting Athens have found at the foot of the southeast slope of Lykabettos an institution that they may take just pride in. They find there an excellent library, adapted especially for the study of the art, topography, epigraphy, language, and literature of Ancient Greece. They find a small knot of young, enthusiastic men, who find highest delight in delving, now by book and now by spade, into the marvelous life of the people which has been the civilizers of the world. (Quinn 1898, 336.)

ASCSA Library, 1902

As one of the first prominent example of the Catholic clergy, Fr. Quinn could have been the exception to the rule, as Smith’s invective at the beginning was quite harsh against Roman Catholics at the School. But we will delve further into this problem in next month’s post, and offer a resolution…


Author’s Note

I would like to thank Eleftheria Daleziou of the Gennadius Library Archives for helping me with documents related to the Gennadius family—and her willingness to reach out to other archival institutions in Athens on my behalf. Further, I must thank Shane MacDonald of the Catholic University of America’s Archives for providing a photograph of Fr. Quinn in their Photographic Collections. And, finally, I thank Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan for always supporting my intellectual journeys in the Archives of the ASCSA.


Works Cited

Greeley, A.M. 1977. “Anti-Catholicism in the Academy.” Change 9.6: 40-43.
Klingshirn, W.E. 2016, 3 October. “Early History of the Department, 1891-1918.” The Catholic University of America, Department of Greek and Latin. http://greeklatin.cua.edu/about/earlyhistory.cfm
Nuesse, C.J. 1990. The Catholic University of America: A Centennial History. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
Quinn, D. 1895. “The American School at Athens.” Catholic University Bulletin 1: 65-72.
Quinn, D. 1896. “The Duty of Higher Education in Our Times.” Transactions of the American Social Science Association 34: 15-28.
Quinn, D. 1898. “Chapter VIII—Education in Greece.” Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1896-97 Vol. 1: 267-348. Washington,    D.C.: Government Printing Press.
Quinn, D. 1901. “Chapter XXIII: The Language Question in Greece and Some Reflections Suggested By It.” Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1899-1900 Vol. 2: 1297-1319. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Press.
Quinn, D. 1902. “Των τελευταίων αιώνων επιγραφαί Ζακυνθιακαί.” Αρμονία 553-600.
Quinn, D. 1907. “Modern Diocese of Athens.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C.G. Herbermann, Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Quinn, D. 1908. Helladian Vistas. Yellow Springs, OH.


The Grecian Landscapes of Anna Richards Brewster

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion by Anna Richards Brewster, 1912. Private Collection (?)

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter) has an interesting, albeit odd, art collection. It comprises mostly oils and watercolors, with a few three-dimensional exceptions, such as Paul Manship’s bronze Actaeon. The card inventory that George Huxley and Mary Lee Coulson created in the late 1980s was replaced by a database I developed in the 1990s, in order to record the whereabouts of the artworks which frequently moved from building to building without any notice.

While some of the objects were bequeathed to the ASCSA by former staff and members, most of the material lacks provenance. My first database was short on content, but the more I delved into the School’s institutional records and collections of personal papers, the more interesting information I discovered about the origin of some of the art pieces. In the case of Amory Gardner’s fine portrait by Anders Zorn, I found that it was a gift from the Groton School in 1938.

The sources of some of the modern paintings (e.g., those by Martyl Langsdorf or Tita Fasciotti) were puzzling at first because I could not connect them with any gifts. The advent of the internet, however, has solved many of these mysteries.  Searches for artists’ names revealed that some of the modern paintings were connected with Saint Louis, suggesting that some may have come to the School together with the personal papers of archaeologist George Mylonas, who taught at the Washington University in Saint Louis for several decades. (See “The Spirit of Saint Louis Lives in Athens“.)

Inventorying purposes aside, my preoccupation with the School’s art collection did not stem from an art historical interest but instead from a need to contextualize it: for it seemed that each piece had a biography that continued past the death of its creator and owner(s). With patience, some luck, and a good amount of research in the School’s archives, I soon concluded that there was an interesting story to be told about many of these objects, a story that connected them with men and women once intimately bound up with the ASCSA. Read the rest of this entry »


Grace Macurdy of Vassar College: Scholar, Teacher, and Proto-Feminist


This is a guest post by Robert L. Pounder

Robert L. Pounder, Emeritus Professor of Classics at Vassar College, here contributes a review of Barbara McManus’s posthumous book about Grace Harriet Macurdy, titled The Drunken Duchess of Vassar. Pounder, who has been conducting in-depth research on the social history of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) in the 1920s-1930s, writes that Classics was “dominated by unaware, myopic, smug, unsympathetic men, men who viewed academic accomplishment by women with condescension and skepticism.”  Women in academia, like Macurdy, were thought to be anomalies–a different species. Based on his work at the ASCSA Archives, Pounder has also published an essay, “The Blegens and the Hills: A Family Affair,” in Carl W. Blegen: Personal & Archaeological Narratives, ed. N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, J. L. Davis, and V. Florou, Atlanta 2015.


Born in 1866 in Robbinston, Maine, Grace Harriet Macurdy was the sixth of nine siblings whose parents had immigrated to the United States from the nearby Canadian province of New Brunswick just a year before her birth. Her father, Angus McCurdy (the spelling of the name was later changed to Macurdy because he did not want to be thought Irish) was a carpenter who barely eked out a living.  After leaving his children in the care of their mother and paternal grandmother for long periods and thus improving his situation somewhat, he was able to move the family to Watertown, Massachusetts by 1870; there they grew.  Watertown provided a better series of houses and slightly improved material circumstances for the Macurdy children.  Moreover, they profited greatly from the guidance of their mother and grandmother, both of whom encouraged the children, including the girls, to read, write, and pursue their educations. Read the rest of this entry »


An African American Pioneer in Greece: John Wesley Gilbert and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1890-1891.

Posted by John W. I. Lee

John W. I. Lee, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, here contributes an essay about John W. Gilbert, the first African-American student to participate in the Regular Program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) in 1890-1891. Lee is writing a book about John Wesley Gilbert, the early history of the ASCSA, and the development of archaeology in Greece.


In his official report to the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter) for academic year 1890-1891, Director Charles Waldstein praised students Carleton Brownson, Andrew Fossum, John Gilbert, and John Pickard, who had “proved themselves serious and enthusiastic” throughout the year.  Waldstein went on to describe the School’s 1891 excavations at ancient Eretria on the island of Euboea.  While Fossum and Brownson excavated Eretria’s theater, Pickard and Gilbert “undertook the survey and careful study of all the ancient walls of the city and acropolis, and will produce a plan and an account which… will be of great topographical and historical value.”

Waldstein’s report gives no indication that one of the students, John Gilbert, was African American—the first African American scholar to attend the ASCSA.  With the passage of time, memory of Gilbert’s pioneering contribution was forgotten at the School, until Professor Michele Valerie Ronnick of Wayne State University searched for him in the ASCSA Archives in the early 2000s.  Ronnick’s work on Gilbert, featured in the School’s Ákoue Newsletter, forms the foundation of my research.

John Wesley Gilbert. Photo: Daniel W. Culp, Twentieth Century Negro Literature (1902)

John Wesley Gilbert was born about 1863 in rural Hephzibah, Georgia; his mother Sarah was enslaved.  After Emancipation, Sarah took her young son to the nearby city of Augusta.  From childhood Gilbert thirsted for learning.  An 1871 Freedman’s Bank register bearing his signature gives his occupation as “go to school to Miss Chesnut.” Read the rest of this entry »


Greece 1935-1938: Involuntary Testimonies

For the really significant history is that grass roots history which reveals the everyday life of people, in their homes, and at their retreats, in their work and in their play, in turbulence and in repose.
Theodore C. Blegen, 1948

“I suppose you have heard about the Revolution which is taking place here. It began last Friday night -March 1st. During dinner we heard various rumblings and shots out in the city, but didn’t think much about it, believing them just the ordinary noises of the city. But afterwards they became so pronounced that we knew something was happening. So Betty [Dow] and I went down-town, in the direction from which the shots came. We met many troops marching through the streets, and finally came to the region where the firing came from – near the Akropolis. A revolution is such a strange thing here – everyone takes it as a matter of course, and a little as a joke – and the firing isn’t widespread at all. We were able to approach so near –without any danger – that we witnessed a tank storming a barracks for soldiers, and saw the firing on both sides… after the attacks on the barracks which we saw (we were in a crowd of about 25 – the sole witnesses), we saw other tanks, at close range and finally came upon battalions of soldiers drawn up with guns and bayonets in the streets and ready for action… ” wrote Richard (Dick) H. Howland, age 25, to his family back in America.

Most of Howland’s letters carry the “Stadium” stamp, which was issued in 1932 as a supplementary stamp of the 1927 “Landscapes” set. The “Stadium” was withdrawn from sale in 1939. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Richard Howland Papers.

Read the rest of this entry »