Interview by Dorian Kokas on
December 19, 2001
She greeted me with a straight ouzo right at her door almost foreseeing Iíd
be frozen stiff taking the way by motorbike to her apartment under the Acropolis. Once inside, I was faced with
a mirage of antiquities almost carelessly placed, from China to who knows where. It was awesome. Indeed an entire
article could be written on what was in there. She took me in as though I were an old friend, a hospitality one
would expect from Greeks and even more.
Once in, glass in hand, I spotted a couch uncluttered by rarities , and preceded to get my papers and tape player
out. No way. She took my hand and led me to the kitchen quoting an old Greek proverb: ď A hungry bear canít dance.Ē
I wasnít hungry and I wasnít there to dance , but I got the meaning. Her idea of a ďmezeĒ, small something to go
with her Santorini wine, turned into a three course dinner she had prepared. It was out of this world. ďNow the
bear can dance,Ē she said.
Theresa, the controversy surrounding you is well documented and I donít want
to get into it just yet, but tell me, how did it all start? How did you ever get interested in the Chinese-Greek
connection so much that you devoted you entire life to it?
At University, I often felt there was something more to the
idea that Greece was the cradle of civilization. One of my professors, in a classroom of 300 students, such were
the times, offered to pay my way to China where I had felt it all began. All civilization, all roots, he said I
could learn and develop there, but he died before he could pay my way. I paid for the trip alone.
So You had these ideas, at university. Were they ever accepted by your peers,
No! there was and still is a fear in Greek society about radical
ideas, especially about the origin of Greek roots and culture. Itís too daring.
Let me go on to your ideas about the snake symbolism you write about which
personally I find fascinating, how do your contemporaries see it?
Suspicion, Dorian, even hate. At least disrespect. I was and
still am an outcast.
Of the archeological, academic community.
So, how did you react to this?
I wrote more books. Traveled more, learned more; now Iím absolutely
convinced I am right.
Theresa, letís get down to basics: if the snake symbolizes the ultimate protector
of mankind, then why is the snake feared so much? I mean when one sees a snake he/she runs in terror?
Not so in other cultures. Farmers feed snakes because they eat
rats. The plague was the real terror and rats brought it on. Snakes eat rats. From the beginning, the head of the
snake is heart shaped and from there we get the symbol of the heart as being the center of unity. Before Greece
we see the heart shape in Chinese antiquity. You know, Dorian, the serpent eating its tail? Whatís that? The Indian
ďOMí or birth death birth? Unity. The snakes in the museum at the Acropolis are a species from China, not
a type found in Greece.
Ok, granted, the heart we give to our loved ones on Valentines day doesnít
resemble a heart on the surgeons table, but what would our lovers think if I gave them a symbol of a snake? No
pun intended Theresa?
Thatís a matter of how symbols were manipulated to serve different
purposes. Itís not the truth.
Well then, look at the bible; the snake was a symbol of the devil.
Organized religion got involved and warped things.
Before the interview, you told me you had given the former prime minister
one of your books on his way to China. Did he ever read it?
He called me saying that he didnít read it but promised to do
so. I donít believe him.
Would you call it apathy, or fear?
After all this, youíre still a tour guide, and perhaps the most famous. How
do you differ from the ďtypicalĒ guides who flood the Acropolis every year?
The other guides donít understand me or donít want to. Especially
one of them whom I think is out to get me. Iíve had complaints, but the fascination expressed by my visitors far
outweighs the complaints; especially the Japanese. They are more open minded about such things. The younger guides
tend to go by the books; maybe afraid of losing their jobs.
Theresa, after all youíve experienced, written, and taught, whatís left?
I mean, how do you feel about it all, right now, with our ouzo in this cold wintry night, here?
Tired. Iíve done what I could do. Iíve proven to myself that
Iím right; someday the world will see it, long after I am gone. Why canít all cultures see that we are ONE . We
all come from the same source.
Some say your ideas are not founded, in fact crazy.
Thatís what they said about Einstein
(here she asked me to switch to Greek and hoped I could translate; I did)
Theresa, (after more wine and ďkourambiedesĒ) What do you usually do apart
from guiding, teaching or writing; I mean, what are your hobbies?
I listen to music.
Modern; classical modern.
Western, Broadway, musicals. Not traditional classic. Not Mozart.
Theresa, in one sentence, how would you describe yourself ?
( she paused, then looked me straight in the eyes)
A Person not afraid. I am not afraid.
Now, now that youíve been through it all; what advice would you give to young
students, here, now, studying Archeology in Greece and in fact all over the world. If you could talk to them now,
what would you say?
Donít be afraid. Tell your thoughts to others; be brave and
follow them through. Donít let the institutions of fear and ignorance stop youÖÖ..that is all.
She gave me a box of Kourambiedes as I was leaving. Into that freezing night
I felt something, like something was added to me, like I learned more in a few hours than a semester in college.
She would have been my favorite teacher, and probably would have been thrown out of that same school, only to have
her books taught in that same school 20 years later.
Dorian Kokas was a writer/musician/teacher who lived in Athens, Greece. He died several years ago.
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