The widely known word for a well-frequented place in human society, “museum,” originally comes from the Greek word, “Μυσεῖον,” for the word literally means a place dedicated to the nine Muses of Pieria, goddesses in charge of all the liberal arts in Greek mythology. Imagine a harmonic band of the holy Nine singing the lines most sublime and celebrating the amazing fluorescence of literary and artistic sparkles, all of which are orchestrated by the most wise and powerful Apollo, who carefully choreographs the display of high arts and the creation of wonders (θαύματα).

Apollo of the Belvedere
The Apollo Belvedere, c. 120 – 140 CE. Vatican Museums

Museums are places where human wonders are remembered and commemorated especially through the display of objects. Whether the objects are designed to be beautiful or ugly, whether the memory are supposed to taste sweet or bitter, museums bear a clear witness to the human past – it is only our judgmental attitude filled with the odor of ego that, more often than not, stands in the way of the appreciation of our collective consciousness of culture and beauty of nature, also known as humanity. Thus, when godly music drifts over through the tumult from the House of the Muses, we listen for it and follow it into the Μυσεῖον, feeding our eyes upon the majestic history and the utter triumph of beauty.

A little βίος of mine: I, Russell L., anche detto Philomuseia, am, in real life, a student of history, classical studies, and archaeology. But I am also a fervent lover of all humanities in general. There is nothing more interesting to me than the edifice of humanity built up over the course of history. I love traveling around, learning languages, and marveling at the multiplicity of human experiences. Also, I am a huge fan of soccer/football, and most of all, a die-hard follower of Liverpool (the greatest EPL club, ever) – doesn’t that also explain why I love history?

I love museums. I especially enjoy the intellectual and visual satisfaction and embrace the physical exhaustion of visiting museums. Among the thematic range of museums as wide as it can be, I am particularly fascinated by archaeological museums, historical museums, and galleries that display art prior to the 1900s (Malerei der Antike). Due to my areas of expertise, I am only going to blog mainly about those types of museums mentioned above. I hope my choices of museums are not to be seen merely as a representation of a parochial vision of human history so as not to be labeled as, for example, total unconsciousness of the contemporary world. I am an antiquarian, and I see some good personal reasons to be continuously empowered and strive for a deeper understanding of the “more distant past.” The geographical imbalance of my choices of museum I cannot manage. I visit museums as I roam around for traveling or academic purposes, and such activities have mostly taken place in either China, European countries, or the United States. A final note on a logistical aspect of this blog: I will be maintaining this blog in both English and Chinese, so that people may pick and choose which language they prefer to read. However, some blogs will only be in one of the languages, and don’t ask me to translate if that’s the case.

Alright, εἴρηκα τὰ προλεγόμενα (I have said the things that need to be said in the beginning). On board and onward, to the sanctuaries of the Muses. The most rewarding adventures await!

 

Philomuseia

20.6.2017 in Vilia, Greece

 

Note: Φιλοκαλοῦμέν τε γὰρ μετ᾽ εὐτελείας καὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας (We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy, Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.40.1, trans. J. M. Dent) is an excerpt from the famous Funeral Oration of Pericles who was the Athenian general at the start of the Peloponnesian War. Giving a speech commemorating the fallen soldiers of Athens, Pericles praises the standard that Athens sets for all humanity – beauty without extravagance, wisdom without effeminacy. This is probably what a classical education is for. It developes a character.

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