Housed in the stunning National Archaeological Museum of Athens, are dozens of faces I've known for decades, but never met. I am familiar with the creases and lines of Agamemnon's golden mask— I once played the goddess Athena when I was twelve in a play about the tragic hero. I know every curve of every muscle in the tensed body of Zeus (or Poseidon— his identity is not known for certain). I have smiled back at the curled lips of Kouros and Kore, and stared into the black eyes of Augustus. Finally, I get to stand beside them, breath held in wonder.
One of the things I love most about Ancient Greek mythology is that the heroes and gods are flawed, imperfect— they suffered fears and falls, love and loss. They were human. When I look at the expression of the faces, hands and spines of these sculptures, I feel the blood in their hearts, the breath in their lungs. Every unique wrinkle in a forehead, that soft individual bend of the mouth— all so alive, so human. Perhaps every sculptor was a Pygmalion, falling for his creation, carving and chiseling with love, the pulse into cold stone. I look into these faces and I see the person; their suffering, their joy, I think of the hands that captured the person, and I feel connected.