The Romans believed that every place has a genius loci, a spirit that protects it and the people who dwell in it. Indeed, even the spirit of the imperial family’s place of residence was related to the official worship of the emperor’s person, and the same spirit was recognised as the official genius loci of the empire as a whole.
In the Christian period, the benevolent spirit protecting a location was replaced by the patron saint of the town or village, and any saint whose name was given to a leader, king or emperor became the patron saint of the entire state.
Today, the phrase genius loci usually describes the special atmosphere characteristic of a site, rather than a protecting spirit. This atmosphere is not a meteorological phenomenon, but exists in the intellect of the visitor or observer who -to a greater or lesser degree depending on the cultivation of his or her soul and spirit- will associate the place with an idea, and in the case of our homeland, with the idea of the new Man that emerged here in antiquity.
The German philosopher Edmund Husserl stated that the vital force which exists in man as a thinking animal -his mind- appeared in ancient Hellenic man for the first time, and that the true birth of the European spirit lay in this ancient Greek foundation of the human being. According to French poet and essayist Paul Valery, Europeans owe to ancient Greece that which distinguishes them from the rest of the human race: that is discipline of the spirit, which we owe to a way of thinking that tends to refer all things to man, to man who must develop all aspects of his being -body, mind and spirit- and that he must protect from exaggeration and its purely imaginary product, by detailed analysis and criticism of his judgements, by distributing his energies, by regulating forms. Through this training of the mind that Valery described with such precision, science was born, the greatest glory of European man. […]