Exotic places; The Greek World, photos by Eliot Porter, text by Peter Levi. New York: E. P. Dutton. $35.

This is the Greece of our dreams -- in pictures far superior to any of our own vacation slides. In 144 large-format pages, Eliot Porter, the veteran nature photographer, captures the majesty and strength that was Homer's Greece, those very qualities that so often elude the layman photographer posed at the foot of the Parthenon.

Porter covers the usual subjects -- the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the ruins at Olympia, the Acropolis -- but he does so with an attention to detail that elevates these pictures far beyond cliche. In addition to the familiar ruins and columns, Porter has found rockroses flourishing on the arid island of Rhodes; green lichen encrusting the theater steps at Laodicea, Turkey; and a redbud tree abloom at Olympia. Indeed Porter's eye for serenity, which so marks his nature photography, stands him in more than good stead on this side of civilization.

The 80-plus color plates are amplified with texty by Peter Levi, a classics professor and devoted Greco-phile.

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