American Philhellene On How You Can Help Greece From Afar

Dorothy Lobel King during one of her recent visits to Greece. Photo courtesy Lobel King

Dorothy Lobel King, an American author and archaeologist who lives and works in London, is a noted philhellene who has spent much of her professional life writing about ancient Greece and its enormous contributions to western civilization.

She is also a great lover of modern Greece, as she has visited the country many times recently. However, she tells Greek Reporter that this year she will stay home — not because of her fear of contracting the coronavirus, but because of her fear of transmitting it to the Greek people.

“No, I definitely will not go to Greece this summer, because the UK still has quite high R0 rates: I like Greeks, and wouldn’t want to accidentally kill someone by transmitting the virus,” she tells Greek Reporter.

The archaeologist adds, however, for all those who need their “Greek fix” this summer, that “it’s easy to to enjoy Greek culture at home through the digital channels the government set up.”

Travelers who will be missing Greece this summer can become members of any number of museums up and down the entire country, King explains, saying “One can become a member of the Benaki and Cycladic Museums, which helps support them, and buy catalogs of exhibitions from their shops online.”

“I am literally eating Greek food off Greek plates made by a Greek artisan, which I bought in the Cycladic Museum gift shop,” she says — and provides Greek Reporter with a photo to underscore her point.

King, who earned her PhD in archaeology from King’s College London and the Institute of Classical Studies for a thesis entitled “The Sculptural Decoration of the Doric Order ca. 375–31 BC,” says that she always strives to buy Greek foods and fashion items in London.

“There are plenty of wonderful independently-owned Greek food shops in London. I go to Food Filosophy and Fratelli Greci — where one can buy Greek food and wine (I give friends bottles of Boutaris wine). Sadly Ergon is a little out of my way, but their chocolate is excellent. Waitrose stocks very good yogurt from Serres, which my step-mother says is her favorite,” she says.

The American author wrote a 2006 book entitled “The Elgin Marbles” defending the British retention of the Marbles against Greek claims that they belong to Greece and should be moved back to Athens. However, regarding the name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia, the archaeologist had been quoted as saying that Skopje’s position was “ridiculous.”

“The Macedonians invaded and conquered Skopje, but Alexander conquered Iran and Afghanistan as well. None of these two other countries ever claimed to be Macedonia. Amphipolis is in Macedonia, Vergina is in Macedonia and Macedonia is in Greece. To claim the opposite is so ridiculous. It is like saying that Jesus went to America.”

Asked by Greek Reporter which parts of Greece she will miss the most this year, she replied:

“I think it’s less about the parts of Greece I’ll miss – other than very touristy islands I like almost everywhere in Greece — it’s not seeing Greek friends that I’ll miss. Phone calls are great, but I want to hang out with them and see them.”

King is looking forward to visiting Greece next year, when the virus threat will hopefully have receded and this past Spring’s woes will have become just a bad memory, saying “If we follow the rules and stay safe, hopefully next year we can enjoy Greece.”