30, November 2010 § 1 Comment
A Friday Hike with John Pack is a photographer’s paradise. Around every bend there is a more beautiful view of the mountains, a spiderweb catching the sunlight, or an ancient olive tree. However, at times it can also feel like a photographer’s nightmare. I thought the hardest part of bringing a large film camera on the hikes would be lugging it up the mountains around my neck. I was wrong. Try wandering around paradise with only twelve shots left on your camera and you’ll see what I mean.
28, November 2010 § 1 Comment
Students attending the Italy-Greece Session in the Aegean Center are drawn, either by serendipity or design, to the life and works of Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. Our days in Villa Rospigliosi in Pistoia were spent comprehending the intricacies of the heart in La Vita Nuova, which articulates the poet’s love for his muse, Beatrice. We likewise immersed in Dante’s milieu during our visits to Firenze, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Prato. In the words of our highly able instructor and guide, Jeffrey Carson, “we’ve been Dante-d.”
What started out as a class intended for two has blossomed into a twice-a-week affair of seven students. We began reading The Inferno as soon as we settled in Paros. After the semester break, we continued with The Purgatorio. There is something remarkable about reciting Dante’s poetry along with other people. Perhaps it is the theme of journeying together that makes his works a highly appealing read, or as Dante puts it in the opening Canto of The Inferno:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
When I had journeyed half of our life’s way
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.
As readers, we (and not just “I”) embark on a quest with Dante through Hell and Purgatory. With Jeffrey explaining to us the contexts that underlie the verses, we obtain a more refined understanding of the text. Also, as students of the arts, the words of Dante are significant in our attempts to reconcile our craft with our daily lives.
The rewards after reading The Inferno and The Purgatorio are, of course, unquantifiable. As Dante braved past rings and cornices in his own lifetime, we, too, strive to come into terms with ourselves. We feel more human and alive as we read Dante not because we already know about the natures of Sin, Hope, or Love, but because there is still so much more to discover.
20, November 2010 § Leave a comment
Six years ago the Aegean Center hosted a small symposium on the ancient Parian poet Archilochos. The dozen speakers who attended from around the world were all renowned classical scholars, and several of them, remembering the hospitality they found here, have kept a warm spot for us, and we for them. Among them is Antonio Corso.
Antonio visited Paros again in June as a key speaker in the large conference on Skopas, and naturally came by to renew acquaintance with us. When he offered to give us a lecture, we naturally we grabbed at the opportunity, for he is a world expert on ancient Greek sculpture and architecture, and probably the world’s foremost expert on Praxiteles (he just published volume three of his The Art of Praxiteles – one more to go).
Since our students have been studying ancient Greek art in Italy, Athens, and Paros, his subject was especially appropriate. The lecture, open to the general public, was called “The Artists of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus”, and was given on November 15, in summery weather, in the early evening. As always, Dr. Corso ( his doctorate is from the University of Padua) was clear, brilliant, and straightforward, and afterwards there were many questions; we were reluctant to let him go.
The Mausoleum, one of the greatest monuments of the 4th century bce, was decorated by four or five pre-eminent sculptors from one of the greatest eras of sculptural art, and attempts at reconstruction, assigning fragments, and analyzing style and purpose never cease. Antonio always cites chapter and verse, and then gives his opinion. Since the most renowned of the sculptors was Skopas of Paros and one of the two architects was Satyros of Paros, we have a local interest; doubtless our marble was an unrivaled stimulant.
Antonio has promised to visit us again. We are going to hold him to it.
15, November 2010 § Leave a comment
The Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, Paros
“The Artists of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus”
6:00 pm, Monday, November 15
Dr. Corso is one of the world’s great experts on ancient Greek sculpture, especially that of the 4th century bc. He has lectured around the world, and published many essays and books (most recently The Art of Praxiteles II: The Mature Years).
The lecture is open to the public.
7, November 2010 § Leave a comment
Paros attracts creative persons: many painters, sculptors, photographers, and writers are denizens of our island, however invisibly. They live here some of the year, much of the year, or even all year. Many come to the Aegean Center to share their thoughts, ideas, and presence with our students.
On October 28th we were fortunate enough to have one such artist, Apostolos Doxiades. He and his family have a house here and he gets on the ferry to Paros when his busy life allows. This was ‘Ochi Day’ – the holiday that commemorates Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas’ rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940 – and so there was a festive air about town despite the rain (on a farming island, rain is welcome).
After an introduction by John Pack, Apostolos spoke to us for about an-hour-and-a-half on many subjects. A widely and passionately learned man, he wears his erudition lightly, and he was entertaining as well as formative. He discussed the origins of Romanticism, the modern Greek conundrum, his choice of language in which to write (he alternates between Greek and English), the joys and difficulties of the writer’s life, the connections between mathematics and literature, and more. The room was full; students, teachers, andfriends of the Aegean Center allowed for standing room only. Afterwards our minds were abuzz with new ideas, associations, and questions.
Apostolos has directed movies; produced, directed, acted in, and written plays; delivered many lectures; and written many essays. Of late he has concentrated on fiction, and his books are easily available. The last one I read is a graphic novel, called Logicomix, that investigates the search for absolute mathematical truths as narrated by Bertrand Russell. It is both educational and delightful, like Apostolos himself. Check his website: www.apostolosdoxiadis.com/en for further information.
And we expect we see him again at the Aegean Center.