WATER: PART I The Source of Life and Aquatic Connections (S. Rizopoulou) and WATER PART II: Medicinal waters, ancient spa towns, Roman bath houses, Byzantine bath complexes and holy water shrines.



Themes from the two lectures by Sophia Rhizopoulou:
Water of the universe

The hydrologic cycle
Water and culture
World Water Day: 22 March
Water as time: the clepsydra
Water as the elixir of life
Aquatic metamorphoses: Acheron, nymphs, Orphics, perpetual dew, crystals
Water of the city and the ecosystem
Water of plants and productivity
The example of the caper plant
Water in the 21st century:
Natural commodity and commercial product
Climate change
Drought and flooding
Brackish regions
Daily life and saving water

Brief introduction to the subject
Without water there is no life. Twinning oxygen and hydrogen, water with its two parts is a powerful enabler that gives, regulates and communicates. Water in perpetual movement symbolizes rebirth, leads to catharsis and purification, and follows the dictates of aquatic connections.

In the past, water was protected by female divinities and its relationship to the earth found rich expression in vegetation. Still today, the metamorphosis of living, vegetal matter and the chain of productivity keep alive the history of a particular place. Wherever immobile plants thrived there was also water and the interrelationships which govern its movement from the parts of the plants below and above ground. The seasonal, hidden roles played by water produce flourishing foliage, colorful flowers and durable roots, all of which hint at the invisible current and the aquatic connections of life.

The example of the caper plant. The caper plant keeps its green leaves in waterless places of the Mediterranean region throughout the summer thanks to its resistance to drought. The caper plant locates the water is uses through its deep root system and mechanisms that have developed in order to help the plant cope with a dry climate. The leaves hold significant amounts of water and for this reason in some Mediterranean countries caper plants are established in fire zones in forests (since they do not burn easily).

The subject of water generates other connections too, some related to desire, for instance, and purification – aquatic connections that are secret, hidden away, and reserved for the initiate.

Today we look for water elsewhere in the universe, and its discovery is linked with our fears and hopes for the condition of the planet Earth.

“Aquatic connections” have taken me to unknown places (inaccesible, alluring, obscure, hidden). In the begining, I was in a rush to understand them. Later, I learned that because what acts as a mediating force is energy transmuted into other forms, everything has to happen in its own time, slowly and gradually, so that life and the primordial element, water, can make their connection.

Themes from the two lectures by Marianna Koromila

Therapeutic springs and minor, but powerful, healing divinities
Ancient spa towns and bath complexes as peripheral urban development: medical treatment, leisure and entertainment. From Gadara on the Jordan to Aidipsos on the Euboian Gulf, and from the Strymon River in Macedonia to the River Maiandros in Ionia
Baths: the new urban culture of the Roman Empire
Byzantine bath complexes: their function in the public space of a Christian city and their place in the Christian thought-world
Miracle-working holy water shrines - Hagiasmata: a tour of modern Istanbul
The culture of water, gardens and bath-houses in the East: some thoughts and observations.

More in this category: ANNUAL LECTURE 2010 »