HESIOD MIGHT HAVE written the script. The 2004 summer was Greece’s last Golden Age. The Athens Olympics focused the world’s attention on a small but thriving country in the Mediterranean. In no other nation could the Olympic flame be lit and returned home, as though Zeus’s eagles had once again found the centre of the earth. A brilliant opening ceremony reminded the world of Greece’s ancient glory. The marathon began in the outer-lying suburb of Marathon, exactly 42.195 kilometres from the finish line in Athens (provided you took the old road). Medals awarded in gold, silver and bronze even replicated Hesiod’s hierarchy of Ages that befell humankind.
Added to this were supporting acts like Euro 2004, when the Greek soccer team flew back from Portugal, victorious, and was garlanded with laurel at the Pan-Hellenic Stadium used for the inaugural 1896 Olympic Games. Commentators drooled on TV: ‘May this axehasto – unforgettable – summer never end!’ When Eurovision and Miss World success came promptly after, it only brightened the glow.
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