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Unconscious discord: The battle between modern Greece and its ideal in the mind

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  1. 'Greece seemed to be known ground' for Andersen.
  2. Andersen's conclusive thoughts greatly opposed those of Biddle.
  3. Why would both Biddle and Andersen leave Greece with such different perspectives?
  4. From the cases of these men some insight may be gained.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, many men from the West journeyed to Greece, trading in their comfortable existences in Europe and America for exciting adventures where many risked their lives in the face of pirates, brigands, and plague; and for some of these men, traveling to Greece ?was by far the boldest undertaking in their lives? (Constantine 6). They went to see with their own eyes the land which they had heard so much of in school, the educational system of that time being a very classical one, rich in the ?mythology, legend, art, and ancient history? of Greece (Andersen xiv). This ?vision of antiquity? they were fed created within the minds of these educated men a certain Greek Ideal or Idea, that is, a conceiving of Greece as a pure greatness or perfection (McNeal 1). They came to associate Plato, Homer, Theseus, and the rest of those famous names with a kind of magic quality, placing in such Ancients admirable attributes and values which they longed for in their own time (Constantine 6). And with this Ideal in mind the ?neoclassical man? was enchanted, and eagerly accepted the risk of traveling to Greece, being sure to write down everything he witnessed along the way (McNeal, 1).

[...] As Andersen himself exclaimed upon absorbing the Temple of Theseus, unspoiled and grand? in its beauty, actually saw Soon, however, he comes to see Modern Greece, ?both gentle and lamenting,? suffering under Turkish rule, and feels if the whole people (61). And yet, he considers this enslaved, miserable, uneducated people as connected with the Ideal Ancients, as intelligent people? rapidly improving their current condition at a rate ?like no other in Europe,? at a rate comparable to the ?striking progress? in the learning of a young child (50-51). [...]

[...] All the ancient monuments he came across were negatively reacted to with claims of them being & solitary picture[s],? ?complete and desolating to the mind? and always covered in a disgusting ?yellow tinge? (94-95; 139). Needless to say, Biddle did not respond any better to the present Greeks themselves, overall labeling them as being ?little superior to the beasts whom they drive heedless over the ruins?; these barbarians do not even have society by his standards (112; 146). He constantly draws a line to separate the present and the ancient situations of Greece, making it clear that he views them as two individual entities, the latter being in no way connected to the great former which preceded it. [...]

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