The remaining parts of an olive tree under which the ancient Greek philosopher Plato is said to have sat to teach and debate with his pupils were found on Thursday to have been forcibly removed, possibly for firewood.
Passers-by noticed that the tree, located near Iera Odos, had been severely damaged and its roots pulled from the earth. It appears that it had been hacked away during the night. There have been reports of numerous trees in Athens being chopped down illegally as residents try to obtain firewood. Many Athenians have turned to wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to keep warm due to a rise in the tax on heating oil.
The tree, thought to be more than 3,000 years old, had been nurtured back to life after being hit by a bus in 1976. At the time, its gnarled trunk had split into four pieces. The largest of these was taken to the Agricultural University of Athens, where it has been on display ever since.
The Iera Odos (Sacred Way) lies on the ancient route between Athens and the town of Elefsina (Eleusis). The remains of Plato’s Academy lie near the tree, giving the area the name Akadimia Platonos.