It is often said that we travel abroad to more fully understand ourselves upon returning home. Ancient Athens was a founding cradle of democracy, giving birth to notions of freedom and equality. Some 2,200 years later, when the United States gained its independence, its democratic system was greatly influenced by the Athenian model, and also by the writings of ancient Greek and Roman thinkers, including Homer, Plutarch, Xenophon, Aristotle, Epicurus, Cicero and Cato.
On this journey we will go back to the sources, the places that contributed so much to our country’s culture. Our exploration will appropriately begin in Athens, which Plato called “the city hall of Wisdom”. After touring ancient monuments attesting to its glorious history, we will embark on a cruise to the fabled islands and shores of the Aegean Sea aboard the private yacht-like Callisto, which accommodates only 34 guests. In Santorini, we will explore the remarkable remains of a prosperous and well-organized prehistoric city; in Crete, in addition to visiting the magnificent Bronze Age palace of Knossos, we will venture to Gortyn, where, among other remains, we will see the laws of the city, dating to 500 BC, carved on stone slabs so that every citizen could read them; we will call at the small sacred island of Delos, seat of the Delian League, which marked Athens’s transition to an imperial power; Ephesus, in Turkey, one of the world’s most glorious archaeological sites is next, followed by the beautiful and unspoiled island of Chios, home of the Adamantios Korais Library, named for the leading Greek scholar of the 18thcentury, who corresponded extensively with Thomas Jefferson. The Library, which we will visit, houses some of this correspondence. Before we disembark in Istanbul, we will explore the ruins of Troy, site of the legendary Trojan War, related by Homer in his Iliad.
We are privileged to have on this thematic journey Andrew O’Shaughnessy as our Guest Lecturer. The Vice President of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, he is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at the Thomas Jefferson Foundationand Professor of History at the University of Virginia. The author of several acclaimed books, he is an authority on Thomas Jefferson and the founding of America. Professor O’Shaughnessy’s lecture topics will explore such themes as the Origins of Modern Democracy in the Ancient World; the American Founders and the Classics; John Adams, Alex De Tocqueville, and the critique of Democracy in America; and Thomas Jefferson and Democracy. Through his lectures and discussions, Mr. O’Shaughnessy will explore with travelers how ancient classical thinking influenced the writers of the American Constitution.