What do Scotland, Greece and Russia have in common? Mr. Eugenides explains:
On Calton Hill in Edinburgh, not too far from where I am writing this, sits the Parthenon. Well, a replica of the Parthenon – the “National Monument”, constructed in the nineteenth century as a memorial to the dead of the Napoleonic War , but never finished due, so it is said, to lack of funds (say what you like about the Greeks, but at least we finished ours). It stands today, overlooking Princes Street, frequented by gawking tourists by day and moustachioed homosexuals by night, mute testimony to the ambition of a forgotten age, and known now as “Edinburgh’s folly”.
Nor are the links between Scotland and Greece limited to ersatz monuments and questionable sexual practices. We also share a national saint; indeed, St Andrew divides his attentions between Greece, Scotland and mother Russia, from where James writes.
One hesitates to draw out such a flimsy thread too far, but it is worth noting that each of these three countries is, in its own different way, in thrall to a glorious past, and each is struggling to recapture some of that lost glory.
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