Tag Archives: Great Britain

Oscar Wilde – Euripides

A Vision

TWO crownèd Kings, and One that stood alone

  With no green weight of laurels round his head,

  But with sad eyes as one uncomforted,

And wearied with man’s never-ceasing moan

For sins no bleating victim can atone,

  And sweet long lips with tears and kisses fed.

  Girt was he in a garment black and red,

And at his feet I marked a broken stone

  Which sent up lilies, dove-like, to his knees.

  Now at their sight, my heart being lit with flame

I cried to Beatricé, “Who are these?”

And she made answer, knowing well each name,

  “Æschylos first, the second Sophokles,

  And last (wide stream of tears!) Euripides.”

Oscar Wilde .  Poems.  1881.

euripides

Euripides. The last of ‘The Marvelous three’ Athenian theatre play writers. The most rebellious one. His criticism on religion -and the Olympian Gods in particular- and his attacks on traditional, social and moral values were infamous, earning the dislike of many of his fellow citizens. Even one of the most open minded audiences of the ancient world, the Athenians, had trouble understanding him.

Later he became immensely popular.  Theatre goers and play writers alike since then, bow before his talent and unprecedented boldness.

As Oscar Wilde explains:

“For though Euripides has not the Titan strength of Aeschylus, that Michael-Angelo of the Athenian stage, nor the self-restraint and artistic reserve of Sophocles, yet he has the qualities that are absolutely and entirely his own. His broad acceptance of the actual facts of life, his extraordinary insight into the workings of the human mind, his keen dramatic instinct for scene and situation, and his freedom from theological prejudice, make him the most interesting of studies. He was a poet, a philosopher and a playwright……..

…….He saw indeed that men and women as they are, are more interesting than men and women as they ought to be. He never tried to make humanity real by exaggerating its proportions. He cared little for giants or for gods. the sorrows of mortals touched him more than all the gladness of Olympus”

Why even care about Art?

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts

—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art.

Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others;

but of the three the only quite trustworthy one is the last.

JOHN RUSKIN, St. Mark’s Rest: The History of Venice

Ruskin
A Londoner who reinvented how we see art…

Britain vs. Japan

paper britain japan

Check out how Britain declared war on Japan. It’s the official text as dictated by W.Churchill himself. So classy! As Winston later stated:

“Some people did not like this ceremonial style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.”

I repeat, this is the original text and nothing was added or altered…

Sir,

On the evening of December 7th His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom learned that Japanese forces without previous warning either in the form of a declaration of war or of an ultimatum with a conditional declaration of war had attempted a landing on the coast of Malaya and bombed Singapore and Hong Kong.

Poster issued by the Ministry of Information during WWII
Poster issued by the Ministry of Information during WWII

In view of these wanton acts of unprovoked aggression committed in flagrant violation of International Law and particularly of Article I of the Third Hague Convention relative to the opening of hostilities, to which both Japan and the United Kingdom are parties, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo has been instructed to inform the Imperial Japanese Government in the name of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom that a state of war exists between our two countries.

I have the honour to be, with high consideration,

Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Winston S. Churchill

boss

There and back again. A Marbles’ controversy

Detail of the Erechtheion (acropolis of Athens)
Detail of the Erechtheion (acropolis of Athens)

Some Brits ask: “How can you own something that was made back in the 5th century BC?”

Some Greeks say: “Greek people want them back!”

Is it that hard to comprehend that they’re all missing the point? It is not the Greek State that owns them. It’s the Parthenon and the city of Athens that ‘want them back’. Both sides have to see this in a cultured, classy and sophisticated way.

The Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor has stated that it is the British Museum’s duty to “preserve the universality of the marbles, and to protect them from being appropriated as a nationalistic political symbol”

Neil MacGregor
Neil MacGregor
Dimitrios Pandermalis
Dimitrios Pandermalis

He is right! The British museum should speak directly with the director of the New Acropolis Museum; maybe the mayor of the city of Athens too.

“OH, WAIT… SO THIS MEANS THAT ALL MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD SHOULD BE EMPTIED!”

Most of the ‘Elgin marbles’ are pieces of a larger structure. The Parthenon! It’s that simple.

Claiming that all antiquities from all museums should be returned to Greece, Italy (plus a whole list of other countries) is, for anyone that uses common sense, laughable.

  • The vast majority of statues and other artefacts stand and are being displayed as units. They are not part of something else.
  • Greek statues were exported & sold outside their place of creation.
  • They’re way too many. What’s the number of exhibits that are going to be returned? A few? A lot? Why not all of them? Where do we stop?
  • But really: the main and most important reason is that they are ambassadors, tangible examples (and not abstract ideas) of the Graeco-Roman world & civilization. The one that shaped the Western World as we know it today.
Parts of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum
Parts of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum
Copy of part of the Parthenon frieze on the Parthenon. ON the Parthenon
Copy of part of the Parthenon frieze on the Parthenon. ON the Parthenon…

The main problematic issue is this: both sides see a different frame of the dispute.

Many British officials claim that “legally the matter is on the side of the British Museum. So, the matter is of morality and function”.

I agree 100%! Morality and function. Reuniting the pieces of the Parthenon that are in London is a moral act; and this act serves a function too!

“AND WHO’S TO BLAME FOR ALL THE DAMAGE & DESTRUCTION?”

I know! let’s blame ‘Zee Germans’… There’s no point in going into the details of who and when did what damage on the Parthenon and its sculptured decoration. Unfortunately, the truth is that contemporary nations (modern Greeks, Venetians, British etc.) and not barbarians or the all-conquering Time, inflicted the most serious damage on the Acropolis.

Today things have changed considerably. I’m certain we can all agree that there are knowledgeable specialists both in Britain and in Greece that can take good care of pieces of art and ancient artefacts.

New Acropolis Museum
New Acropolis Museum
British Museum
British Museum

IN BRITAIN’S DEFENCE

There’s a sad fact: many Greeks that are actively involved in the campaign are clearly involved for reasons of private interest. It is a well-known fact that some people have and are being engaged in this controversy (pity that there is one) for irrelevant reasons. Money, fame, personal gains. From the level of legal advisors all the way up to ministers of tourism, they’re more interested (or only interested some of them) in promoting themselves than the cause itself. It is imperative that the directors of the two museums leave corrupt politicians and soldiers of fortune out of the ‘game’.

On the other hand we should keep in mind that Elgin’s act is causing controversy in Britain since the 19th century. Lord Byron himself wrote his poem “The Curse of Minerva” cursing lord Elgin for what he did. Today, many famous Britons (academics, actors etc.) have repeatedly stated that are in favour of the Reunification.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

Paul Cartledge, Anthony Snodgrass, Sean Connery, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench just to name a few. Stephen Fry believes that now is the time for the reunification. What is more, using legal pressure is not the gentleman’s way. It’s not the civilized way to proceed. Call him romantic but he’s right!

“Britain, should say: yes for 200 years we kept them safe. Perfidious Albion was an untrustworthy country with colonial ambitions. Let’s not be like this anymore. Let’s be a classy country.”