An Athenian Nocturnal Archaeology II: Down Socrates Street

An Athenian Nocturnal Archaeology II: Down Socrates Street

An Athenian Nocturnal Archaeology II: Down Socrates Street 977 1308 Athens in a poem

In the early hours of Friday morning
young men
wearing sleepless eyes and exhausted faces
white caps
worn out blue jeans
and, occasionally,
pale brown robes,
walk down Socrates Street
blue, plastic carrier bags
from chocolate brown hands.

Silent they pass buildings
wrinkled neoclassical facades
chained metal gates
stencils announcing the revolution
and a faded portrait
of Rosa Luxemburg.

Above them, watchfully
gutted living rooms
sectioned fireplaces
one limping white chair
and seventeen layers of light blue paint
—an inside-out domesticity
ripe for gentrification.

Further down
and next to the “All made in China” sign
a carefully prepared, printed inscription
outside a shop that used to be
in the typography business:
“At this very moment,
I am absent.
In cases of urgency,
please call 694678914”.
How long does a moment last?
The sign has been here
for the past three and a half years.

The men turn into Sophocles Street
—leaving other tragic poets behind—
and descend into an anonymous basement
a timetable printed on an A4 sheet
and taped on its door:
“Fajar 5:30; Asar 6:30; Maghrib 8:53”
and other cryptic phrases
that few natives could comprehend.

They emerge after an hour or so
and make their way back
at all costs
Epicurus Street.
No offence, but why should they let the Samian
mock them again
with that sardonic grin on his face?


Yannis Hamilakis, An Athenian Nocturnal Archaeology (a photo-poetic essay), Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 2.1 (2015) 149-168. DOI:10.1558/jca.v2i1.26634

Feature photo taken by Yannis Hamilakis between July 2014 and February 2015.

Read also: ‘An Athenian Nocturnal Archaeology I’

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