Sunday, March 14, 2010

Zeno's Paradox in Velia

View of part of Velia from the watchtower

The Sunday Skip:  In my college days, I was fascinated by Zeno's paradoxes.  His example of how time does not exist is shown through his arrow in flight argument in which he explains that for any one instant in time, an arrow in flight must either move to where it is or move to where it is not.  But it can't move to where it is not, because this is a single instant.  By the same token, it can't move to where it is because it's already there.  Therefore, logically an arrow in flight can never move in any single instant.

Zeno was part of the Eleatic School founded in the early fifth century B.C.  His mentor was the famed Parmenides, for whom Plato dedicated an entire dialogue.  The Eleatics were pre-Socratic philosophers from Elea who believed in the universal unity of being.  They maintained that because the senses cannot cognize this unity, the use of logic and reason was the only way to arrive at the fundamental truth that All is One.

The Eleatics lived in a city that today stands in ruins.  It is located about three hours south of Naples in the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park.  Italians call the ruins Velia, but it was originally named Hyele by the Greeks who founded the city around 535 B.C.  A bit hard to find and off-the-beaten-track, these ruins contain a complex of structures that include an old marketplace at the bottom of the hill by the entrance.  You can walk up a cobblestone road, taking a small detour down an overgrown path to a crumbled villa.  The pathway then becomes steep and leads first to an amphitheater and then to a medieval watchtower built next to an ancient temple.  A one-room museum stands off to the side with sculptures that archeologists found at the site.

Getting There:  Take the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway until you see the signs for Cilento.  Exit at the Cilento SS road 267 that follows the coast from Agropoli to Velia.  Follow the signs and ask a lot of people along the way.  You'll find many places to eat, wonderful beaches, and very few tourists at the ruins themselves.

The watchtower with adjacent museum and amphitheater directly below

Scupture inside the museum

Temple ruins next to the watchtower

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter Kingsley has written a book on the healers at Velia- In the Dark Places of Wisdom. You may find this relates to Zeno who is mentioned in the book.