This morning, we woke up and left Assos 😦 We all loved the hotel (despite the horrible wifi connection) and were so sad to leave. It was such a beautiful, peaceful town – perfect for a vacation or a honeymoon or something. I’m surprised it’s not more popular, honestly. We stopped at the ruins of Pergamum and visited the acropolis and all the ruins there. The acropolis of Pergamum was at the very top of a tall mountain; we didn’t have to climb all the way up, though. There was a cable car that we rode almost to the top of the mountain, and that was pretty cool. The ancient ruins contain, among other things, an old cistern, the temple of Trajan, the temple of Athena, the temple of Zeus, and the amphitheater. The temple of Trajan was extremely large and built even higher on the mountain than the temple of Zeus, which shows just how important the emperor’s status as a god was to the citizens of Pergamum. (Ancient Pergamum was known for its zealousness to the emperor cult.) The temple was built on a man-made foundation, which is one of the most impressive aspects of the structure. The amphitheater, like the one in Troy, was also used as a theater and social gathering place, while also being the steepest amphitheater in the ancient world. The base of the temple of Zeus is still located in Pergamum, but in 1887-1888, German archaeologists cut the temple into pieces, transported it to Berlin, and reassembled it in a museum there.
After this, we went to visit an old temple of Isis. In the Christian era, this temple was converted into a church, and two buildings were added. Christians actually built a second building inside the temple, and that was the building they used as a church. After the Seljuk and Ottoman conquests, the church was converted into a mosque, part of which is still in use. For lunch, we had some Pergamum cheese, a local delicacy. It’s warm and kind of melty, and you eat it on pita bread, and it tastes fantastic. So unhealthy, I’m sure, but still. During lunch, the mealtime entertainment was a cat giving birth under a bush beside our table. Some members of our group took pictures, but I was slightly grossed out and wanted to give the poor cat some peace lol. Final tally by the time we left the restaurant was 3 kittens, I think. That’s the one thing Turkey needs: more cats. *Sarcasm* In My Name Is Red, Pamuk makes several references to the abundance and behavior of the cats in Istanbul, and experiencing it firsthand certainly helps the reader understand the joke more.
Our next stop was the Onyx factory. They made some onyx object in front of us and gifted it to Zachary! He was pretty excited, I think. We also looked at all the Turkish turquoise jewelry, and it was beautiful. It’s more blue than the turquoise in the southwestern states. From there, we drove to Izmir, the hometown of Cenk. He seems really excited to be home, so I hope he has a fantastic few days. After dinner, a few of us went out to look around Izmir and to hunt down some bananas. We were eventually successful, and that was one of the best bananas I have ever had. Once we returned, I got to watch Lydia perform delicate, sea-urchin-spine removal surgery on Katherine’s foot. We’re all excited for an exciting day tomorrow in Izmir!
As the story in My Name Is Red continues to unfold, the reader learns that Enishte Effendi is murdered. He is the father of Shekure and the uncle of Black Effendi. Unlike the the corpse whose opinion opens the book (and is nameless for the reader at that point but is later identified as Elegant Effendi), Enishte Effendi is a more peaceful, less vengeful spirit. He describes the four residences of the soul: womb, earth, Berzah (limbo), and heaven or hell. Until the Day of Judgment, Enishte Effendi will remain in Berzah, where past and present run simultaneously and he is not bound by location. However, he is not upset by his fate. Enishte Effendi holds a dualist view – he sees the material body as a solely bad, imprisoning thing and the soul as the most important part. According to him, “Only when one escapes the dungeons of time and space does it become evident that life is a straitjacket. However blissful it is being a soul without a body in the realm of the dead, so too is being a body without a soul among the living…” When one holds a dualist view of the universe, it is common to denigrate the body in order to uplift the soul; most dualists focus on the good and virtue of the soul. Enishte Effendi does this, but he also reverses the rationale to include that it is better to be a body without a soul while on earth. To be honest, I don’t completely understand this statement. Perhaps he means that it is better to be soulless on earth because you will not experience pain, sorrow, and other negative emotions. Or, perhaps he means that it is better not to have a soul when on earth because one can do what he wants without a guilty conscience. Better yet, maybe Enishte Effendi thinks that it would be better for a person if his or her soul was already in heaven while the body still walks around soulless on earth.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates discusses the idea of justice with other men in the city. Like Enishte Effendi, Socrates appears to be dualist and to exalt the soul above the body. When he discusses justice and virtue, he associates these with the soul. “Justice is a soul’s virtue, and injustice its vice,” says Socrates. As a result of the level of virtue of the soul, the person will behave well or badly: “A just soul and a just man will live well, and an unjust one badly.” Socrates places the responsibility on the soul of man, but the soul is not impenetrable to bad things caused by the body and the material world. In “Apology,” Socrates believes that men’s unjust actions harm their souls, so these bad actions do more harm to the attacker than the attacked. Much like Enishte Effendi, Socrates did not fear death; he believed it to be the release from the prison of his earthly body.
For Christians, there is a fine line between dualism and thinking rightly about the body. Though the human body is fallen and corrupted, it is still the creation of God and humankind should be thankful for their bodies. Christ was incarnated in a human body and was resurrected in a perfected human body. He shows us that our flesh is not wholesale evil. Yes, we should discipline our bodies and bring them into submission to Christ, but this does not mean that we should view them as a hateful prison. The soul and the body should be unified and serve Christ together. It is for these reasons that Christians must be wary of falling into the trap of dualistic thinking. Though we will be glad, like Eneshti Effendi and Socrates, to leave the mortal coil and join our Lord, we should not view our bodies as the enemy. Instead, we should view them as another part of creation that has been redeemed in Christ Jesus.