American School of Classical Studies at Athens several months ago, and due to my hectic schedule, I have now been able to relax with the book and digest the contents. It took me some time to form my opinion of this exquisitely composed academic guide.
The Histories of Peirene by Betsey A Robinson is anything but an average coffee table accessory. At first glance it appears that you’ll be embarking on a rousing adventure of the classical waterways of Greece. But it's so much more that this. The illustrations allow the reader to envision the site in its former glory.
The chapters focus on the organics of the architecture, Roman equivalents, and the biological makeup of the water running in the spring at the Peirene site. You’ll notice, however, that the Peirene Corinthian Fountain and the stringent scientific approach that the author takes to describe it, deviates from the average readers’ ability to dissect, or even understand, an archaeological site. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if your academic mind can wrap itself around the in-depth information presented by Robinson.
The cataloguing process in which Robinson uses to organize the site features was impressive, at least in my opinion it was. She further explains these features in the beginning of the chapter in the Illustrations and Tables section. An archaeological student or scholar could understand why Robinson termed the fountain sections and features the way she did, but the average reader might not. Nevertheless, organization of the Peirene Fountain features and artifacts in the books is cleanly and excellently laid out well, thus creating a foundation for further study of the site.
What can you hope to learn from the Histories of Pierene?
- The mythical background of Peirene. Where Bellerophon tamed the Pegasus.
- Information about the features and artifacts excavated at the site.
- The significance of the Faux Marbles and Piscina Paintings.
- The architecture of the fountain and why it built the way it was.
- The organic makeup of the waterways.
Rufus B. Richardson, the first excavator of the site, believes that The Peirene Fountain is “the most famous fountain of Greece.” I can certainly understand the appeal, and furthermore, I can now understand why Robinson approached her book in such a scholarly fashion. She was essentially trying to prove the significance of the Peirene Fountain, and as an archaeology student, I admire her conviction in making this site more visible to the public.
If you'd like to order your copy of the Histories of Peirene, you can do so at ascsa.edu.