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A layered look reveals ancient Greek texts November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Science.
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An ambitious international project to decipher 1,000-year-old moldy pages is yielding new clues about ancient Greece as seen through the eyes of Hyperides, an important Athenian orator and politician from the fourth century B.C.

What is slowly coming to light, scholars say, represents the most significant discovery of Hyperides text since 1891, illuminating some fascinating, time-shrouded insights into Athenian law and social history.

“This helps to fill in critical moments in ancient classical Greece,” said William Noel, the curator of manuscripts and rare books at the Walters Art Museum here and the director of the Archimedes Palimpsest project. Hyperides “is one of the great foundational figures of Greek democracy and the golden age of Athenian democracy, the foundational democracy of all democracy.”

The Archimedes Palimpsest, sold at auction at Christie’s for $2 million in 1998, is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the great Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedes’ work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering tantalizing and fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy.

The palimpsest is believed to have been created by Byzantine monks in the 13th century, probably in Constantinople. As was the practice then, the durable and valuable vellum pages of several older texts were washed and scraped, to remove their writing, and then used for a medieval prayer book. The pages of the older books became the sheaths of a newer one, thus a palimpsest (which is pronounced PAL-imp-sest and is Greek for “rubbed again”).

After the Christie’s sale the manuscript was left at the museum by the private collector for conservation and study. This year imagers at Stanford University used powerful X-Ray fluorescence imaging to read its final pages, which are being interpreted, transcribed and translated by a group of scholars in the United States and Europe.

The new Hyperides revelations include two previously unknown speeches, effectively increasing this renowned orator’s body of work by 20 percent, said Judson Herrman, a 36-year-old professor of classics at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. He is one of a handful of classicists who have written doctoral dissertations on Hyperides.

Hyperides lived from 390 or 389 B.C. until 322 B.C. and was an orator who made speeches at public meetings of the citizen assembly. A contemporary of Aristotle and Demosthenes, he wrote speeches for himself and for others and spoke at important political trials. In 322 B.C. Hyperides was executed by the Macedonians for participating in a failed rebellion.

“It’s a spotlight shining on an important moment in history,” said Mr. Herrman, currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Until the new leaves were found in the palimpsest, most scholars believed only fragments of Hyperides survived beyond the Classical period. The mystery of Archimedes’ treatise on combinatorics, the Stomachion, was solved in 2003 by deciphering the palimpsest. Now W. Robert Connor, the president of the Teagle Foundation, which provides education and financial resources for education, called the discovery of new Hyperides text a “tour de force of the first order.”

A combination of high-tech imagery and old-fashioned deciphering, sometimes letter by letter, was used to resurrect the older text, revealing a slice of Athenian history in the days after its devastating defeat by Philip II, king of Macedonia and the father of Alexander the Great, Mr. Connor said. “The number of times you get a new text is very small,” Mr. Connor, a former professor of classics at Princeton said. “It’s like hearing an old violin played at a superb level.”

Cecil Wooten, a professor of classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who attended a Hyperides presentation by Mr. Herrman on Nov. 13, called the discovery “interesting and significant.”

“Although Hyperides is a very important fourth-century Greek orator, one of the canon of 10, we have very little of his speeches, and much of that is fragmentary,” Professor Wooten said.

Michael Gargan, a professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “Every bit we get is important.” Mr. Gargan, a major scholar on ancient Greek law, noted that Hyperides wrote many speeches and had a leading reputation in antiquity, but only about six of his speeches survive.

“This obviously will contribute a great deal more,” he said. “I eagerly await seeing the text.”

In one recently discovered speech, Hyperides talks about the number of boats (220), a number not previously clear, belonging to the Greek side in the Salamis battle, Mr. Judson said. In another speech, after the Battle of Chaeronea, he argues that the tragic defeat was the result of chance, not bad policy. In a political case Hyperides supports the Demosthenes policy that led to the Athenian defeat.

“For we chose the noblest policy and we believed it necessary to free the Greeks by taking on the risks ourselves, just like before,” Hyperides argues in a passage translated by Mr. Herrman and transcribed by Natalie Tchernetska of Riga, Latvia, a project scholar and specialist in Greek palimpsests, whom Mr. Herrman credits with first identifying the material.

“One must assign the start and the suggestion of every risk to those who make the motion, but the outcome of these things is to be assigned to chance,” Hyperides argues in the speech. “Diondas proposes the opposite happen: not that Demosthenes be praised for his policy but that I give a defense because of chance.”

Professor Herrman said the material also gives new information about inheritance laws in Athens and suggests a different timing for the Demosthenes case.

Historians had always believed that the trial of Demosthenes took place before the battle of Chaeronea, which Athens lost to the Macedonians, but the newly discovered speech shows that it was after the battle, Mr. Herrman said. “We had no idea of what the content of the trial was,” he said. “Now we have an Athenian view of their own defeat.”

Mr. Herrman recently visited the Walters, where he was able to look at the small, barely legible pages of the palimpsest under a microscope. He also met with Mr. Noel; Abigail Quandt, the senior conservator of manuscripts and rare books; and specialists in imaging techniques. “Three weeks ago I discovered I can read things in person that I can’t get on the digital images,” Mr. Herrman said.

Ms. Quandt said she took almost four years to take the palimpsest apart. The day of Mr. Herrman’s visit, pages of the text were laid on a table where fiber optic lights on either side revealed aspects of the manuscript. Ultraviolet, strobe and tungsten lights were used to enhance the visibility of the text. After computer processing, the hypertext appeared red, and the prayer book text appeared black.

The palimpsest contains about 120 printed pages of Archimedes text, in addition to the Hyperides material, a philosophical commentary on Aristotle, a neo-Platonic philosophical text, pages from a liturgical book on the life of a saint and at least five pages so well-erased it is impossible to determine what they are, Mr. Noel said.

Most of the palimpsest has been translated, and it will probably be available to scholars by 2008, followed by an exhibition at the museum, Mr. Noel said. The entire list of scholars for the Archimedes Palimpsest project, as well as detailed reports on the finding, can be found at www.archimedespalimpsest.org.

“This book is the most important palimpsest in the world,” Mr. Noel said. “We’re learning about the nuts and bolts of ancient medieval history and gaining a new understanding of the early history of the calculus and of our understanding of ancient physics. The prayer book is made up of five other books. Another of these books seems to be an early Christian, second or third century, commentary on ancient views of the soul and why they were incorrect.”

Related Links > http://archimedespalimpsest.org/


‘Once They Were Brave’ > Ancient Greek Civilization’s Triumphs and Trials November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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“Once They Were Brave, The Men of Miletus”, by Hans Willer Laale, is an exciting “anthology” of an ancient city and a “who’s who” of talented achievers and their accomplishments.

Set against a backdrop of widely different political circumstances, ongoing regional conflicts, rebellions, wars and occupations, “Once They Were Brave” deals with a variety of matters of antiquity pertaining to the history of the east-Greek city of Miletus and its people.

The author’s thorough research and interest in the subject are evident as he provides readers with excerpts, classical biographical references, explanatory footnotes and illustrations to assist readers in their understanding of this unique place and its population. “Once They Were Brave” begins with the establishment of the Minoan and Mycenaean settlements and the legendary founders and citizens of Miletus. The author then moves on to a detailed discussion of the lives and contributions of the pre-Socratic natural philosophers Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes and many subsequent citizens and residents of Miletus who brought fame to the ancient city during some of the region’s most famous conflicts involving Persia, Sparta, Macedonia, Egypt and Syria. The book concludes with the domination of Asia Minor by the Romans during the time of the Republic and early Empire, up to the end of the Byzantine period.

A beneficial reference to historians, archaeologists and students of literature, science and philosophy, “Once They Were Brave” is a compelling history of a city and its people.

Laale was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. As a young man he immigrated to Canada, where he studied at the University of Western Ontario and then the University of Toronto. From 1967 to 1996 he served as professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Manitoba, where he taught vertebrate embryology. He is the author of several scientific papers and reviews. Now retired, he lives in Vancouver.

AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. For more information, please visit http://www.authorhouse.com.

Cyprus International Film Festival November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Cyprus International Film Festival > History

CIFF is the first internationally oriented film festival which offers new and upcoming directors in multiple sectors of entertainment (such as feature films, short films, documentaries, commercials, music videos and video art) with an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of a jury of internationally acclaimed cinema experts, directors and actors and be awarded with the “GOLDEN APHRODITE” and a cash prize. Equally unique is the condition that these cash prizes must be utilized for their next project and spent in Cyprus.

The ‘CIFF – Cyprus International Film Festival’ is the brainchild of some very dedicated people, event organizers, film producers, cinema experts, multimedia and audio visual specialists, who have been working, corresponding, putting it together for more than two years.

The Cyprus International Film Festival takes place on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, at in the middle of spring every year. The Cyprus International Film Festival is the biggest glamour (red carpet, black tie) event of the region, spilling over Cyprus’ boundaries and spreading over the whole of the region with repercussions reaching the whole of the world.

Cyprus International Film Festival – CIFF is held in two wonderful seaside cities, Limassol & Larnaca and the capital Nicosia, in spring every year, thanks to its framework, operates throughout the year presenting the most interesting films of young filmmakers, plus tributes to great filmmakers and programs dedicated to contemporary film & video production from around the world related to dialogue among civilizations. Fabulous satellite events with the presence of Cinema Stars. Be there!!!
Related Links > http://www.ciff2006.com

A feast of Greek cheese November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Ronald Bergan of the British newspaper The Guardian, samples the local delicacies on offer at the Thessaloniki international film festival and finds one film worth savouring

A critic at film festivals is much like a buffet diner: he has to select from the array of dishes placed before him; a difficult choice especially at one that offers as varied and rich a feast as the Thessaloniki international film festival. As such, I decided that when in Rome, so to speak, I would focus on the selection of Greek films. It proved a bad move.

Greece makes an average of 25 fiction films and documentary features per year, and almost all of them were proudly on display in Thessaloniki. Every country wants to prove that its film industry is thriving, and Greece is no exception, but presenting this in the context of a film festival generally results in quantity, not quality. Despite this prior knowledge, I intrepidly embarked on my Greek odyssey.

Among the offerings was Dying in Athens, about a man with leukaemia given only a few months to live, much to the consternation of his wife and two lovers. What could have been a tragicomedy of how a man tries to arrange his life in the face of death turns into a sub-Jacques Demy musical with the characters bursting into ghastly Greek pop songs while fey dancers perform kitsch ballets in the background.

Extended Play was a crass “comedy” about a jealous man killed in a road accident who is given five minutes to materialise once again and spy on his fiancee. There were also two films, like several recently, that consist of a series of vaguely interrelated characters, a conceit perfected by the late lamented Robert Altman, but now rather hackneyed. Slightly more interesting, but no less conventional, was Akamas, which created some waves in Greece because it tells the love story between a Turkish Muslim boy and a Greek Orthodox girl in Cyprus during British colonial rule (the British soldiers are shown to be quite as brutal oppressors as in Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley.)

Just as I was about to give up and sneak off to more tempting films in the other sections – a comprehensive Wim Wenders retrospective, a homage to Brazilian cinema, new Chinese cinema and the films of Czech fantasist Jan Svankmajer,along came an excellent Greek film (albeit a co-production with Germany and mostly in Albanian) that could happily stand in any company.

Eduart, directed by Angeliki Antoniou, and given its world premiere in Thessaloniki, is based on the true story of a young Albanian man (played by Eshref Durmishi) serving a sentence for murder in an Athens prison. The film follows his flight from Greece back to Albania after strangling a man who tried to have sex with him, his imprisonment for theft, his life in prison (during which he is raped) and his escape during the 1997 riots. During the journey, both literal and metaphorical, Eduart, with the help of a German doctor, learns to feel sympathy for others and guilt for his crime.

This extremely powerful and moving film is not in any way as worthy or sentimental as it sounds; nor, like its Dostoevskian hero, does it take the easy path to final redemption. It also manages to avoid most of the cliches of the brutal prison genre: instead of the documentary realism that is usual with such subjects, it is beautifully shot and framed with a discreet use of music. The film owes a tremendous amount to the central performance by Durmishi, an Albanian actor whose handsome, tortured features dominate almost every scene. Both he and the film could go on to achieve international success.

Like most European films today Eduart is a co-production, no doubt the consequence of many discussions and hard bargaining of the sort that goes on at many festivals. At Thessaloniki, there was Crossroads, a co-production forum that brought together producers, distributors, agents and other film specialists. The festival, now in its 47th year, has also initiated exciting projects such as the Balkan film fund, which offers development grants to the region’s film-makers, one happy result of which was the Bosnian Grbavica, winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin film festival.

Away from the packed houses and the schmoozing and boozing, it was a pleasure to contemplate the various photographic exhibitions that featured at the festival. One was Still Images of Moving Pictures, a collection of photographs by Wim Wenders and his wife Donata, taken on various films sets and locations. Some of the more intimate photos included a shot of Wenders and Francis Ford Coppola swimming in a Nevada river while an amused Akira Kurosawa looked on, and a raddled Nicholas Ray, a few years from his death, warmly greeting Wenders and Dennis Hopper.

At another location were Krzystof Kieslowski’s photos of the people of Lodz, taken between 1965 and 1966, when the future director was at the celebrated film school there.  Almost worth the trip to Thessaloniki alone.

Editor’s Note > Article Copyright by Ronald Bergan, The Guardian.

Greece on Russian wine market November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Greek wines have the opportunity to expand their share on the Russian market following bans on wine imports from Georgia and Moldova, an agriculture minister said Monday.

Russia banned wines from Georgia and Moldova in March, which had accounted for over 50% of the market, on health and safety grounds.

“Since well-known producers of poor-quality wines have left the Russian market, Greece has gained some advantages,” Alexei Gordeyev told a news conference on the sidelines of the first presentation of Greek wines and food products in Moscow.

He said it was difficult to forecast the share of Greek wines on the Russian market, as this will depend on Greek producers, who have been traditionally oriented to the domestic market.

“We welcome Greek products,” he said, adding that famously high-quality Greek wines, olive oil and other farm products would be welcome on the rapidly expanding Russian market.

Greek Minister of Rural Development and Foods Evangelos Basiakos said his country was ready to increase agricultural supplies, including wine, to Russia.

“We would like to raise wine imports, but not at the expense of Russian vodka,” he joked. Basiakos also said that Russia had become the seventh largest importer of Greek wines after Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov visited Greece in October.

Panagiotis Drosos, managing director of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board, echoed the minister, saying that Russia was a priority market for Greece, and that the government would seek to promote Greek wines in the country over the next two years. From September 2007, he said, Russian journalists will be invited to see the wine-making process in Greece.

Works inspired by author Penelope Delta on show November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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150 artists in the Athens College exhibition which opens tomorrow

Io Angeli’s ‘The Secrets of the House’ is one the works going on display at the Athens College.

About 150 artists are participating in the group exhibition “Once Upon a Time there was Penelope Delta” which will open at Athens College tomorrow. The initiative for the exhibition, which was curated by Iris Kritikou, was carried out by the Parents’ Association of Athens College’s Scholarship Fund. The Bafaloukos family are the sponsors.

The works that will go on display are all inspired by the life, the work and the personality of Penelope Delta, a woman who stood by the founders of Athens College: her father, Emmanouil Benakis, and her husband, Stefanos Delta. The exhibition will support the school’s scholarship program, an institution created by Stefanos and Penelope Delta which “remains fundamental in our school’s philosophy,” according to the Association’s President, Anastassia Papachelas-Stoupathis.

Minister of Culture Giorgos Voulgarakis will open the exhibition, which coincides with Athens College’s 80-year anniversary. At a recent event, the President of the Greek-American educational institution and great-grandson of Penelope Delta, Alexandros Samaras, talked about the school’s history and mentioned the very important people who taught there over the years, such as Karolos Koun, Fotis Kontoglou and others. Its alumni include the likes of Alexis Solomos, Dimitris Horn, Minos Argyrakis, Dimitris Nollas, Yiannis Houvardas, Alexandros Mylonas, Alexis Bistikas, Christos Homenidis, Constantinos Markoulakis and many others.

At the Athens College, 15 Stefanou Delta Street, Palaio Psychico, tel 210 6798100.

Korea through landscapes November 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Greece Islands Ionian.
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A trip to Corfu is well worth the effort this time of year and not just for a visit to the Ionian island.

The Museum of Asian Art recently unveiled a new exhibition on “Korea Through Its Landscapes” with 13 paintings dating from the Joseon Dynasty (1329-1910), as well as a unique screen that belongs to the museum’s permanent collection.

The Museum of Asian Art was founded in 1927 after the donation of 10,500 items by an ambassador, Gregorios Manos. Up until 1974 it operated as the Sino-Japanese Art Museum, but was later enriched with other private collections.

It is housed in a building of the British Protectorate, designed by the British architect George Whitmore and built between 1819 and 1824. It was initially used as the residence of the Lord High Commissioner and as the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of St Michael and St George. Following the unification of the Ionian Islands with mainland Greece, the museum was handed over to the Greek state and for a while served as the summer residence of the Greek Royal family.

The exhibition “Korea Through Its Landscapes” is the first of a two-part exhibition that will be completed in the spring with the arrival of another collection.

According to the museum’s director, Despina Zernioti, the aim of the show is to create a panorama of Korean cultural heritage and to highlight the particular beauty of Joseon art.

Related Links > http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21108m/e211hm02.html