One of the highlights of my recent trip to Italy was the opportunity to explore the archeological remains of the city of Paestum, which lies near the southern city of Salerno. The ruins are magnificent for many reasons including the incredibly well preserved Greek Temples dating to 510 to 520 BC.E.
The site also boasts an excellent archeological museum, which includes the remains of the Tomb of the Diver. As Wikipedia explains:
The image of the diver, arcing gracefully into the void continues to haunt me. By some accounts the tomb, which sides are painted with tender frescoes of a Greek party or symposium, conjures Plato’s dialogue about the nature of love. In his hierarchy, love moves from physical beauty to moral beauty to love of knowledge and finally to the love of absolute or divine beauty. Interestingly, Plato wrote the dialogues more than a century after this tomb was painted and covered with earth.
The diver is a literal and figurative capstone to the movement from the world of the senses to the world of the spirit. The diver’s perfect form sails out across the known world as depicted by the Gates of Hercules and into the empty space above a pool of water. I am moved again and again by the spare elegant power of this image.
May we all dive with such ease into the unknown of the New Year.