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Umm Qais 086Umm Qais 088On this day more than 2000 years ago, Meleager, a young Greek poet from Gadara (today’s Jordanian village of Umm Quais) is taking shelter from the burning sun amid the flowers. The valley is quiet, the Sea of Galilee is glimmering in the distance, Syria’s hills rolling gently to his right.
Meleager’s body stretches out in delicious repose, his eyes are slowly closing when (and at this point can we please pause and think of how amazing it is to read a 2000 years old poem on our screen?)….
‘In the middle of the street
Summer had all but brought the fruit
To its perilous end
And the summer sun and that boy’s look
Did their work on me!’

This is all Mealeager cared to tell posterity about that afternoon in Gadara. Not sure what happened next.
But I’d like to think that they had dinner in this square basalt house, intoxicated by more than the fragrance of these flowers.
Dinner served in a clay pot, the remains of which are still here today, in the magic archeological abundance of this place, a sort I’ve never seen before. Hundreds of ancient wonders waiting patiently to be excavated. Beautifully carved columns, mighty remains of a past fallen among the thistles. Enormous crickets and versatile lizards are keeping them temporary company.
Anywhere in Europe, any random square meter of this vast wealth would be immediately and solemnly cordoned off. Labels in 4 languages, an audio-guide and a shop selling Umm Qais lighters would immediately replace the lizards and the crickets.
Not sure my friends Meleager and Alexis would like that. Look at them gossiping lazily in post-prandial bliss.
‘Blimey, Alexis, what do you make of these Cynics all over the place? Don’t believe in wealth, power or fame, reject all possessions! Surely that’s a bit extreme!’Alright, traveller, enough easvesdropping.
I’m now going to let my two friends exchange views on the hipsters of the ancient world undisturbed as the summer sun did its work on me too.