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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo idly flipped over to the Smithsonian Channel on the teevee this evening and took in a program centered on an “aerial view” of Greece and the Aegean Sea.

You can’t go far wrong with drone footage of basic geography, but by the time the show worked its way down to Crete, some questions, niggling or otherwise, were forming in what I perhaps foolishly call my mind.

Not unsurprisingly, when it got to said island the program swooped in on the ancient ruins and modern restoration of the Minoan capital of Knossos. What got Ol’ Robbo’s attention was the American narrator’s insistence on pronouncing the “K” in Knossos. My long understanding – and I fully admit without looking it up that I could be flat wrong about this – was that the “K” is silent.

What further tickled my suspicion was that, in discussing the legend of the Minotaur, the narrator pronounced that beast’s name “MY-no-taur” instead of “MI-no-taur”. Ol’ Robbo is on far firmer ground on this one and will not brook any dissent.

(And lest you suspect Ol’ Robbo is engaging here in some kind of anti-American snobbery, I will reiterate my objection to a Brit narrator I heard on a teevee show some years ago referring to the “Bye-ZAN-teen Empire” when the correct pronunciation, of course, is “BIZ-an-teen”.


Anyhoo, the visuals, as I say, were very good. And with regard to Crete, they largely confirmed and, as they say, contexualized the descriptions of Crete given by Mr. Evelyn Waugh in his novel Officers And Gentlemen, in which his character Guy Crouchback takes part in the disastrous Brit retreat from Crete in the face of the Nazi onslaught in 1941, in which Mr. Woo himself was personally involved.

Pity the program didn’t stop with the physical descriptions of Crete. (This is the “otherwise” part of Ol’ Robbo’s criticism.) It had, instead, to delve into some kind of modern worship of the Triple Goddess (about whom Robert Graves became so infatuated). It also paid homage to native Nikos Karsantzakis, who wrote the novel The Last Temptation of Christ on which the much-ballyhooed Scorsese film was based. The program admitted that the Greek Orthodox Church had excommunicated Nikos over this book. Based on what I know of it and the epitaph on his grave***, I’d say good job, too.

** Oh, you know!

*** “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.” Shorter version? Non serviam. If you’re not familiar, Bing it to see how that worked out.


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March 2021