“Hercules – The 12 Labors”

By | Category: Travel destinations

One of the twelve labours of Hercules Image © Dream Workers

This is the name given to an exhibition being held in Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki.

It opened at the end of last month but a reader – recently returned from Thessaloniki and who visited the exhibition – raised the question as to why the exhibition is closing near the end of next January. Couldn’t it run until the end of next summer as it is an obvious tourist attraction?

But then isn’t Grrek mythology as a whole a tourist attraction?

Greek mythology has hundreds of stories and the labours of Hercules make up just one small part. Who hasn’t heard of Hercules, the Illiad and Odyssey of Homer, the Trojan Wars, Achilles who was only vulnerable in the ankle and Kronos who turned everything to gold if he touched it. There are standard words in the English language like Herculean, Achilles tendon, Trojan horse and titanic which everybody understands.

Given this all pervasive influence, why isn’t there a museum of Greek mythology in Greece. There are any number of museums that have pottery covered with the stories of Greek heroes and these can be found in Greece and  throughout the world but that there is no dedicated museum seems to leave a big gap. This is even more noticeable since archaeological and historical museums have always struggled to attract younger age groups. The stories of Greek heroes, of Jason and the Argonauts, Pandora and the Greek gods seem ideal to attract children given that these are stories with horror, monsters, mystery voyages and all those things that seem to appeal to children.

The theme park/attraction that is holding this exhibition in Thessaloniki may have a different theme for a future exhibition but where are the hard exhibits that people can see as well? As an attraction using modern technology to introduce us the Greek mythology  (which sounds dry) and tales of adventure, monsters and demons (which doesn’t) the organisers have shown themselves to be considerable tourism entrepreneurs.

Surely the time has come for a permanent museum or museums in Greece to concentrate on the role of Greek mythology and the importance it has had on the world?


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