My education was at an all-girls catholic high school, with one male teacher, 5-6 ‘lay’ teachers and the rest were nuns. I was taught the classics – mythology and Latin were among my classes. I remember reading, in Latin, (the drudgery of the Latin pronunciations is indelible in my memory) the story of Icarus and Daedulus.
After many years I am now able to understand the truth of this myth – the concept of which is timeless: Icarus was a teenager and he knew absolutely everything about everything. His father, Daedulus, was a craftsman of flight – he was ahead of the Wright brothers by a few centuries – anyway, as any good father would, he gave his son a gift of wings, with the warning “These wings are made with wax and they will melt if you get too close to the sun. You can go anywhere you want, BUT STAY AWAY FROM THE SUN.” Well, Icarus, being the kid he was, flew over the Aegean Sea, very close to the sun, plummeting to his death as the feathers fell away…..
You are probably wondering why I have taken this tangent. The reason is this – overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on the southern edge of Sicily is the city of Agrigento. Because the Greeks hung around Sicily for a while, as they were known to do when they visited (conquered) a place, they built their usual temples at the highest point to honor their gods.
Sicily in the summer is an inferno – ‘da morire,’ as the Sicilians say.
In my years of coming here, I have NEVER been daft enough to venture to Agrigento in the summer – yes to winter with the dampness; yes to early spring when the almonds blossoms are in bloom; but NEVER in the summer!
This summer was the exception. The good news was that we had our umbrellas! When I suggested this to my guests – American and Sicilian – they laughed at me. However, they changed their tune when they saw the paid tour guides and their umbrellas.
As I walked with my pink umbrella under a rainless sky, I truly understood why the Greeks built their temples at the highest point – they wanted to touch the Sun to truly know both mortality and immortality.