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The sky that Myrtis watched!

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(by Vasiliki Markaki, Museologist and Dr Sofoklis Sotiriou, Physicist)

The greatness of the sky, equally fascinating for all children regardless of the era they live, prompts them to dream, wonder, question, and plan ahead. The images constitute realistic depictions of the sky of Attica from the 5th century b.C., as Myrtis saw it, based on accurate calculations of the position of stars at the time. The human imagination transformed the unique combinations of stars to imaginary figures, directly linked to the stories the ancient Greeks narrated of their heroes and deities. Nowadays, we cannot even imagine the enquiries and pursuits the sky would instigate to people during the Golden Age of Pericles, nor can we know what crossed young Myrtis’ mind when she gazed at the shiny stars at nights. We can only assume…
“I love staring at the Athenian night sky with its countless silver stars… To me, it looks like the finest embroidery, as beautiful as the famous veil that Athenian women weave at the loom for our patron goddess Athena. I am absolutely positive that the sky cannot look as amazing from any other place as it looks from our house in Athens. It is true that I haven’t traveled at all, for women ought to stay in their homes, away from the sight of foreign men; still, I am certain of this! When I look at the stars, the story my grandmother told me comes to my mind. One day, I wanted to learn more about the war with the Spartans and the magnificence of our world-famous hometown, and so she used the legend of Uranus allegorically: before god Zeus was even born, his grandfather Uranus, the eldest and mightiest of Gods, reigned on Earth. It was in his time that the importance of sciences and arts was first recognized. But Uranus was afraid he might lose his power, and thus he refused to share his position with anyone, even his wife Gaea. Other deities, including his sons, decided to claim a share from his power and formed a synergy to fight against him. After terrible battles, Uranus was defeated and permanently hung above the ground as a punishment. From there, he can now observe the happenings on Earth but no longer interfere…”








440 B.C. - 429 B.C.