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Ithaca was Homeric land of Odysseus March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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Study refutes Cephalonia theory > Greeks yesterday hailed a new study showing the modern-day island of Ithaca is the same as that of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus, rejecting a recent British theory that pointed to a nearby island.

British researchers last year claimed they had solved an intriguing classical puzzle, saying the Kingdom of Ithaca was located on another Ionian island, further west. «This new study shows how wrong and inaccurate the British theory is» Ithaca councilor and former island Mayor Spyros Arsenis told Reuters of the study conducted by Greek geology professors and other scientists over eight months. Arsenis also heads the island’s Friends of Homer Society.

The British study, which suggested that Homer’s Ithaca was actually part of what is modern-day Cephalonia, had enraged islanders who are fiercely proud of their renowned ancestor, the wiliest of the ancient Greek writer’s epic heroes.

The British team suggested that drilling showed the Paliki peninsula on Cephalonia may have once been an island and that it better matched Homer’s description of the homeland which Odysseus left behind to fight in the Trojan War. «The new Greek study shows… the geological formations could not have been formed in just 3,000 years and there is no evidence of any sea channel» Arsenis said.

The study will be officially presented next week. The island’s local council also welcomed the results. «This study rules out once and for all the theory that the Paliki peninsula was once a separate island. It is a slap in the face for the British researchers» it said in a statement.

Finding ancient Ithaca could rival the discoveries in the 1870s of ancient Troy on Turkey’s Aegean coast and the mask of Agamemnon, who led the Greek forces against the Trojans. No one knows for certain whether Odysseus or his city really existed.

The discovery of the ruins of Troy, where Odysseus, Achilles, Paris, Menelaus and other Greek heroes did battle, has led scholars to believe there is more to Homer’s tales than just legend.

Be a tourist in your own city March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Museums, Greece Athens.
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The City of Athens organizes tours of museums and archaeological sites as well as culture walks. On a sunny Sunday, the tour guide is surrounded by men and women of all ages wanting to find out more about their own city’s past.

The City of Athens sends out an army of tourist guides to help its citizens become more informed and enjoy themselves in the process. The tour guides are nothing like those one is used to seeing on trips abroad. Often bystanders don’t even know what is going on. It’s a great way to get to know your own city’s secrets, its old neighborhoods, the monuments of Plaka and neoclassical Athens.

Every Sunday without fail at 10.30 a.m., and some Saturdays for visits to sites that are closed on Sundays, nine months of the year, apart from the summer months, the City of Athens holds free guided tours of the city’s sites and monuments. For the past 27 years, its tour guides have been introducing Athenians to their city’s past. All they pay is the entrance fee to the sites themselves, wherever these are charged.

This is how it works: Check out the capital’s municipal website [ www.cityofathens.gr ] for the dates and schedules, call the Municipal Art Gallery and Museums Department, tel 210 3231841 or 210 3240762, or go to the city’s Cultural Center, 50 Academias Street, nearest metro station is “Panepistimio”. Every Sunday morning there is a different itinerary, but many of these are repeated over the year.

If the idea of a guided museum tour seems too much like a school excursion, there are always the outdoor walks. One of these met at the “Evangelismos” metro station on a recent sunny Sunday. Within a few moments, the tour guide was surrounded by a crowd of over 150 men and women of all ages, but very few children, for a briefing of the tour they were to take along Vasileos Constantinou Avenue, the approximate course of the ancient Ilissos River. The tour was to end two hours later at the Church of Aghia Foteini.

Some of the original crowd dropped off along the way, of course, as happens in tours. There was a smaller tour nearby the War Museum. Many of those in the crowd make a regular habit of the tours, meeting friends every Sunday.

As for the tour itself, the information provided by the guide is detailed, similar to the kind of information one would find in a Google search or travel guide, only here the process is interactive; then there are always the wisecrackers, providing lighter moments.

The winter program, January to March, provides a selection of 40 different meeting points. Tickets are issued at the entrance to 148 Ermou Street at the Church of Aghia Dynami. The only thing one has to make sure of is the meeting point for each tour. For example, Hadrian’s Arch for the tour of the Olympic Stadium, 66A Irakleidon Street in Thiseion for the walk around Athens, Philopappou Hill for the a tour of the Pnyx. All the tours are conducted in Greek. Every tour lasts from two to three or even four hours, depending on the site.

I think about the four-hour walk and sit down on a bench away from the crowd. The lecture on the Ilissos River surroundings began at Aghios Georgios Rizari. The guide indicates on the map the course of the now underground river. The point is to see Athens through different eyes. Not piled into a bus. We will walk along the Ilissos, not along its banks, of course, but above them, on the sidewalks.

Tomorrow’s tours >
Byzantine churches >
Meeting point at the Aghios Eleftherios Chapel next to Athens Cathedral.

Benaki Museum’s folklore exhibits from modern Greek history > Meeting point at the Museum entrance, 1 Koumbari Street, Kolonaki, Athens.

Kerameikos, Athens’ Ancient Cemetery > Meeting point at the site.

Archaeological Museum’s bronze collection > Meeting point at the Museum entrance on Patission Street, Athens, nearest metro station “Victoria”.

Future tours > Municipal Art Gallery, 19th- and 20th-century Athens, the Athens of Costis Palamas, Ancient Agora, Acropolis, Plaka’s monuments, National Sculpture Gallery, Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art, Acropolis and Syntagma metro excavation finds, First Cemetery, Pnyx, Old Athenian neighborhoods, Museum of Islamic Art, Elefsina sites. Call 210 3231841 to book.

International conference at the New Acropolis Museum March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums, Shows & Conferences, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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The place, the viewpoint and the general atmosphere of the conference on the return of cultural property for the first international meeting at the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.

15-03-08_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  The photograph is from the Greek Cultural Foundation’s leaflet ‘The New Acropolis Museum’

Nobody can stop an idea whose time has finally come. This blog has written on several occasions about how the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles has gone from being a national demand to an international imperative, supported by leading figures from around the world who want to see the parts of the UNESCO-listed monument reunited.

But it will take more than being in the right to get back the marbles that Thomas Bruce, the seventh earl of Elgin, dismantled, stole and took away in 1801, when Athens was under Ottoman rule. With the permission of the sultan, Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to Constantinople, had the Parthenon friezes cut up and transported to England, where they were bought by the British government. It, in turn, donated them to the British Museum in London where they have remained since.

What was needed, as Melina Mercouri told a plenary session of UNESCO in 1982, when, as the country’s Culture Minister, she initiated her campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, was “a new museum to house them,” given that the existing Acropolis Museum was already full. In order to build the Museum, Mercouri’s husband, the noted American-born French filmmaker Jules Dassin created the Melina Mercouri Foundation, to which he donated his fortune.

The state undertook the project, putting distinguished architect Dimitris Pantermalis at the helm. Renowned architect Bernard Tschumi collaborated with Greek architect Michalis Fotiadis in designing the project that is today coming to fruition opposite the Acropolis.

While the British Museum continues to insist that the Parthenon marbles should stay in the English capital where visitors from all over the world come to see them in the Duveen Gallery, its position is weakening. The upper floor of the New Acropolis Museum will showcase the surviving marbles, together with copies of those in the British Museum so as to show a complete picture of this matchless work of art.

This blog believes that they will return to their place of origin under pressure from the public and governments. One promising indication is that countries and museums around the world are starting to return works of art to the places from which they were removed due to wear, bombardment or illegal activities.

An international conference on the return of cultural property starts Monday, March 17, at the New Acropolis Museum, organized by UNESCO and the Greek Culture Ministry. It is the first in a series of international gatherings organized by UNESCO and its member states to foster awareness and provide a forum for reflection and exchanges on the issue of the return of cultural property.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias will attend the opening of the conference. Culture Minister Michalis Liapis and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Francoise Riviere will greet the participants. The event is coordinated by Vivi Vassilopoulou, the general manager of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Greek Culture Ministry.

For two days, the conference will address the issue, with examples ranging from Italy’s return of an obelisk to Ethiopia to the return by Edinburgh of Aboriginal remains to Australia. There’s a strong feeling among journalists that Elena Korka, the head of the Culture Ministry’s directorate of prehistoric and classical antiquities, will seize upon the opportunity presented by the conference to raise the issue of the Parthenon Marbles, because nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.

Nicolas Kynaston recital at the Megaron tonight March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Music Life Classical.
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As Easter approaches, along with the fragrances of spring, ecclesiastic music creates a feeling of spiritual awakening.

In the past, Athenians used to listen to works by Bach and Haydn played on the organ in the Catholic Cathedral. In 1995, as a new era began, the organ that dominates the Friends of Music Hall at the Athens Concert Hall won a devoted public. Leading British organist Nicolas Kynaston came to play at the festival of organ music he organized in 1997 and 1999. He has been the Concert Hall’s permanent organist since 1995.

Tonight, starting at 8.30 p.m., he will give a recital of church music dedicated to the baroque composer Dietrich Buxtehude on the 300th anniversary of his death. The program includes works by Buxtehude himself, Georg Bohm, J.S. Bach and Johann Pachelbel.

Kynaston was born in Devon and left at the age of 15 to study in Italy. At the age of 19, he was appointed organist at Westminster Cathedral, where he remained until 1971. He first performed in Greece in 1965 at the Athens Festival. Nicolas Kynaston is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Organists. He has taught regularly at Cambridge for many years and has started an organ school at the Athens Concert Hall, the first in Athens since ancient times.

Greece’s Intralot upbeat on winning Spor Toto March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Games & Gadgets.
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Greece’s Intralot SA, the world’s second-largest gaming-services provider, is “optimistic” about winning a 10-year contract to run Turkish sports-betting game Iddaa, Chief Executive Officer Constantinos Antonopoulos said.

Inteltek, the Turkish unit of Athens-based Intralot, in February signed a one-year interim contract to operate Iddaa for Spor Toto, Turkey’s state gaming authority. Inteltek, a venture between Intralot and Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, said it controls about 40 percent of the country’s gaming market.

“We are very optimistic,” Antonopoulos said in an interview in London yesterday. “In the 15 years we have been in this business, we’ve never lost a client. And we don’t want to lose it,” he said. Intralot will also bid for Turkey’s state-owned national lottery, he added.

Intralot has a market value of 1.77 billion. The gaming company, which is scheduled to announce full-year results by the end of this month, forecast 2007 profit of 115 million euros on sales of about 880 million. Profit in the first nine months rose 4.2 percent to 85.5 million, Intralot said November 21.

The results “will be in line with our forecasts,” the executive said, adding that the final dividend will be similar to last year, when Intralot paid 18 cents a share.

Since the beginning of the year, Intralot has won new gaming contracts in South Carolina, its fifth US contract, and Poland and Turkey. It hopes to expand in China and begin operating in Vietnam, Antonopoulos said.

Intralot employs more than 4,000 people and runs lotteries and supplies gaming technology to 40 countries. Intralot’s revenue trails Lottomatica SpA, which manages Italy’s national lottery.

Greek teenagers are risking their sex lives March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness, Lifestyle.
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Greek teenagers are having sex at as young as 12 years old but more than half are not using proper methods of contraception, according to figures made public yesterday.

A survey presented at the Family Planning Conference being held in Thessaloniki indicated that the percentage of teenagers who are sexually active had increased from 30 percent in 2003 to 40 percent in 2007.

Almost seven in 10 teenagers have sex for the first time when they are aged between 16 and 18, but roughly one in 10 lose their virginity between the ages of 12 and 14.

A quarter of teenagers use inadequate contraception methods, while another 27 percent use no type of protection at all when having sex, according to the survey.

Privacy Rights for gay men March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Lifestyle.
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Insurance firm fined for using records to deny coverage to gay man

Greece’s privacy watchdog has fined an insurance company 60,000 euros because it illegally delved into the personal records of a client before deciding not to provide him with life insurance because he was gay, sources said yesterday.

The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) discovered that the insurance firm used the man’s military service record, which showed he had not served because of his sexual orientation, to deny him life insurance. The man already had fire and theft insurance with the company. The APPD considered this to be a breach of the man’s right to privacy by the company, which was not named.

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