As the Olympic Games continue to delight London, Vermonters and everyone else on this side of the big pond fixates on all things Greek. And why not? The Greeks invented the Olympic Games, maps, central heating and poetry, after all. Well maybe not poetry.
But the Greeks did idolize poetry, fitness, and discipline. Excellence in these areas makes parents very proud and honors Zeus. According to Tony Perrottet, author of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games in a recent NPR interview: In the days of the ancient Greeks, poetry and sport went hand in hand at athletic festivals like the Olympics. Poets sang the praises of athletic champions and, at some festivals, even competed in official events, reciting or playing the lyre. He explains:
“At the Olympic Games, the athletes … would hire the greatest poets of the day to write victory odes. At the same time, all the poets of the Greek world would descend on the Olympic Games, and they would set up stalls or stand on soap boxes and just orate their new work, knowing that the finest minds in the Greek world were in one spot.”
The finest minds and the finest bodies in the same place at the same time. What’s not love about the Games? We’ll honor them here by looking at Greek Revivals in Addison County. In the mid-nineteenth century many Americans believed that Ancient Greece represented the pinnacle of democracy. In its honor, they designed their homes in the Greek revival style. Greek Revival houses usually have these features:
- Pedimented (low, triangular) gables
- Balanced, symmetrical shape
- Heavy cornice (the high moldings just below a roof)
- Wide, unadorned frieze (a horizontal band that runs above doorways and windows)
- Bold, simple moldings
While I could not find any Vermonters competing in the London games, it is nice to know that even in Addison County, we honor the games in some of our architecture.
image credit: aefenvironmental.org