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Πέμπτη, 17 Ιουνίου 2010

Εκστρατεία για την Επιστροφή των Γλυπτών του Παρθενώνα

Χιλιάδες κομμάτια ελληνικών αρχαιοτήτων φιλοξενούνται στο Βρετανικό Μουσείο. Η εκστρατεία μας δε ζητάει την επιστροφή όλων αυτών. 
Ζητάμε την επιστροφή των Γλυπτών του Παρθενώνα στην Ελλάδα για να επανενωθεί το Μνημείο.
Πιστεύεις ότι είναι δίκαιο; Αν ναι, βοήθησε να γίνει πραγματικότητα.
Πες το δικό σου “BRING THEM BACK!”

Thousands of pieces of Greek antiquities are hosted in the British Museum. Our campaign does not ask for the return of them all.
We ask for the return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece and the Reunification of the Monument.
Do you believe this is fair? If yes, help this come about.
Say your own “BRING THEM BACK!”
http://www.bringthemback.org


Dream, dream, dream; what's in a dream...

My Special Place Karitsa and the Parthenon Marbles

Short Story written in 2000, based on childhood reminiscences at an ancestral village
By Miriam Katsambis (Aged 15)

Arm in arm with her older sister, Peta, seven-year-old Miriam set out on foot from her grandparents' home in Karitsa just before eight in the morning to walk some five hundred metres to the village school. It would take them a quarter of an hour to negotiate the steep mountainside full of obstacles, rocks, and cliffs that were often buffeted by fierce winds. Being the littlest, and a visitor from Australia, she was not used to walking along such rugged tracks, particularly against strong winds like that.

But the effort was well worth it. Miriam had cottoned on that every day a new adventure awaited her at the one teacher school that opened its doors at a quarter past eight every morning and, like all the other schools in Greece, sent the kids back home for the day at about one in the afternoon. At the school Miriam did arithmetic, reading, spelling, grammar, history and along with all other Karitsa kids enjoyed national celebrations like 25th of March and May Day. At recess breaks, which lasted some twenty minutes, she loved playing hide and seek; darting on this and that side of the dry creek bed, behind prickly holly bushes, box elder trees and crippled trunks of wild olive trees.


Miriam enjoyed the few months that she went to school in Karitsa. She really liked, as a grade one kid, being in the same classroom with her sister Peta, who was in grade five, and her neighbour Giannis who was in grade six. She would rush through grade one writing tasks so that she could have time to "listen in" on grade five and six history. She remembers the teacher with the booming voice talking about the people of Rodos who some four thousand years ago erected the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus, he would tell the grade sixes, was even taller than the Statue of Liberty. On the following day he would be telling the grade fives, even more proudly, about the Olympic Games that began 2700 years ago at Olympia, just a hundred kilometres from little old Karitsa. Most of all she remembers the story about the Acropolis and the Parthenon that was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and knowledge.

Slowly slowly, bit by bit a thought, a feeling began to grow inside Miriam's heart; that somehow she was holding on to a ball of string which when unravelled connected her to a long line of ancestors that went back thousands of years. Lesson after lesson an irresistible urge gripped her mind and her will; to discover her inheritance.

In a few months Miriam had got to know her special homeland, the place where her ancestors came from, the place where grandpa Vangelis and grandma Panagiota eked out a living for so many years, the place where her father, Dimitris, and so many other relatives were born. This is the place where, among hordes of Karitsa kids, she enjoyed a special freedom of children's play; in the schoolyard, outside the church, in the picturesque village threshing ring or at the spring with its gushing clear waters. Could this really be her special place or was it still Clarence Gardens in Adelaide? Could it be both? There is no-one who doesn't love their special places she reasoned. All, young and old, hold onto something from their special place. Today, eight years later, fifteen-year-old Miriam cherishes fond memories of the village.

Miriam sits back and reflects that her special homeland may be broader than her place of ancestry, the village where she enjoyed the most beautiful childhood adventures. That is but a small part of a larger homeland. All who were born there or trace their ancestry there are Greeks. We speak the same language, share the same history and enjoy the same customs and traditions. Our historical timeline stretches back three thousand years. The blood that flows through our veins is Greek.

Miriam recalls, as though it was yesterday, the delight and pride she felt when the family was preparing to follow the time-honoured tracks of the ancient Spartans on their way to Olympia. On the way they passed beautiful towns, picturesque villages, lush green dells and towering mountains before reaching the place where Zeus was once worshipped and the Olympic Games were held in his honour. Standing in the middle of the Gymnasium, where the ancient athletes once competed, Miriam was overcome as much by the imposing physical beauty of the place as by a spiritual connection she began to feel with her ancient ancestors.

Before leaving to return to Australia Miriam had the opportunity to go the Acropolis three or four times. Once was not enough for her! Most of all she liked to marvel at this ageless Greek masterpiece from another small hill across the road, Philopappou, a boscage full of antiquities where the family would go to fly kites, as many Athenians traditionally do, during carnivals. She would then like to cross the road and take the up track to the Parthenon. From a distance as well as from close up she would look at it, video it, photograph it and get goose bumps at the mere thought of the genealogical thread connecting her with those that erected it in honour of the goddess Athena.

She was saddened she was unable to make it to Rodos. She badly wanted to see what was left of the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus was not only a gigantic statue. It was an historic masterpiece that symbolised the unity of all Greeks living in that beautiful island.

All things have a beginning and an end. Miriam's year in Greece was quickly rolling to its conclusion. Flying out of Athens, from the window of the Olympic Airways jetliner, Miriam could see the Parthenon fading fast in the far horizon. In a while she would try to take a glimpse of Rodos, hugged by the azure blue of the Aegean Sea below countless streaks of silver cirrus clouds. Without realising it a small tear coursed its way down her cheek. She hastily smudged it deep into her face to deny its significance and turned to her father, Dimitri, mother, Koula, and sister, Peta. The weepy eyes of all betrayed a shared pain.

Blood is thicker than water. At that moment for the first time in her life she became very conscious of her dual identity, proud of her Australian birth yet overwhelmed by her Greekness. She promised herself that on return home she would try as hard as she could to preserve all things that make her Greek; speaking, singing, dancing, cooking, learning the history and following the customs and traditions passed on from generation to generation over so many, many years.

In the years that followed Miriam found it difficult to keep that promise; to go to regular Australian school during the day and to Greek school in the late afternoons and Saturday mornings. The more time passed the more difficult she found Greek until to speak in that language she would first think in English and then try to translate her thoughts as best as she could into Greek. That would really frustrate her. That is why she decided to enrol at Unley High School, a school that also teaches Greek. She is now happy to be learning Greek once more though she knows full well to get to know how to think in Greek again she will need to go back to Greece and spend time there.
"Australia is an island,
Where you can sail with ease,
But once you go and settle there
It's difficult to leave."
So goes a laconic lament composed and sung by early Greek-Australians at the beginning of the last century. The lament captures in a nutshell the dilemma of so many bi-cultural Australians; sometimes Greek, other times Australian, sometimes Australian-Greeks whilst at other times Greek-Australians. Miriam is continually challenged by the interplay, the tug and pull and endless reprioritising of all these sentiments and feelings. She is determined though to continue the study of Greek language and culture at Unley High School where she tries as much as she can, both in classes and in extracurricular activities, to inform her fellow students on issues about Greek culture.

In her first year at Unley, in a history seminar she explained the story of the Colossus of Rodos. Her classmates were amazed to learn about the incredible design of Charis the Lindios that resulted in a bronze sculpture 31 metres in height which came to be considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. They also showed interest in how it was partially destroyed by the earthquake of 226 BC. Miriam explained that in the seventh century AD, Arab occupiers smashed to bits what was left of the Colossus to sell to foreigners for profit. It was, she said, a tragic end for an artistic masterpiece in terms of design, craftsmanship and size which to this day has ambitious people interested in its re-construction. Miriam dares to dream that by 2004 the islanders of Rodos, inspired by the ancient Colossus, will have ready to unveil a new modern version that may become an addition to our world heritage list.

In her second year at Unley, one of the topics submitted by Miriam for discussion in the Debating Club was the permanent return of the Olympic Games to their place of birth. She spoke with passion and conviction that the Games, which began in 776 BC, ranked as one of the major events in ancient Greek life and united all Greeks. She stressed that during the period when the Games were held all wars between Greek city states ceased. Sadly, she added, in 393 AD the Games were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius. People's interest in the Olympic Games was re-ignited after the liberation of Greece from Ottoman rule in 1821. At about that time French archaeologists began excavating in and around the ancient site of Olympia and took many of their findings to be displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 in Athens. Since then they have been held every four years in different cities around the world. Unfortunately, Miriam concluded, the Olympic spirit continues to be eroded. The Games have been suspended on two occasions, during the first and second world wars. They have also suffered political boycotts and continue to be overshadowed by scandals of performance enhancing drugs, bribery, commercialisation and obscene profiteering. The Olympic Games, she declared, belong to Greece and stressed her point by rhetorically asking the questions: How would the Australian people like it if the Melbourne Cup were to be rotated around the cities of the world including running it at the Faliro Race Track of Athens? How would they react if the Australian Football League Grand Final were to be contested at the Stadium of Peace and Friendship in Piraeus? How would the English like it if their FA Cup were to be played at the Toumpa Stadium in Thessaloniki? In concluding Miriam stressed that only Greece can defend and protect the Olympic Spirit. It's time that from 2004 and thereafter the Olympic Games remain where they belong. It's also more than high time that the Louvre Museum handed over all the Olympic antiquities that it possesses.

In her third year at Unley, Miriam was nominated to represent the school in the Youth Parliament of South Australia. In her maiden speech she spoke passionately about her Greek-Australian identity. Her soul is lit by the ancient Greek spirit and she feels proud of both her Greek and Australian identities. She considers the Parthenon the most significant building in the world; the most exquisite ever built and deeply rooted in the mind of every Greek. She told each and every representative in the State's youth parliament, so that they too would know, that the Parthenon was build under the watchful eye of Pheidias during the golden age of Pericles. It took fifteen years for the project to be completed and in 439 BC it was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and learning. Nine hundred years later, in 450 AD, it was converted into a Christian church dedicated to Our Lady the Virgin Mary. In 1204 AD, the Francs made it a Catholic Church and during the years of Turkish rule the Turks used it as a mosque. Until 1674 AD when French artist, Jacques Carrey, sketched the Acropolis the Parthenon did not show any evidence of damage. The first significant damage was caused in 1687 by Venetian general, Francesco Morosini, who bombarded it with explosive shells that destroyed a large section of the Parthenon. Most damage, however, was caused between 1800 and 1817 by Englishman Lord Elgin; a veritable vandal who for seventeen years continued to saw off and to break into small bits statues, columns and inscription tablets and to pack them into containers to take back with him to England. Moreover he snatched and packed away hundreds of ancient vases and other antiquities that graced the Acropolis. Boatloads of marbles from the Parthenon and all of the Acropolis were shipped to England to be sold to the British Museum by the profiteering Elgin.

Miriam stressed to the Youth Parliament of SA that the British Museum is in fact the receiver of stolen and smuggled goods and consequently an accomplice to a criminal act. She demanded the return of the sacred marbles by 2004 and prepared a resolution condemning the non-compliance by the British Museum. The resolution was sent to Queen Elizabeth of Britain, to their Prime Minister Tony Blair, to their parliament as well as to the British Museum itself.

The Acropolis of Athens is the most revered monument in Greece. It is sacred to all Greek people. It is as symbolic to them as Big Ben and London Bridge is to the English, the Eiffel Tower is to the French, the Statue of Liberty is to the Americans and Uluru is to Australians.

Miriam dares to dream! In 2004 history is reenacted! Athens takes on an ancient look. The island of Rodos unveils a modern version of the Colossus to be added to the world heritage list. The Olympic Games and antiquities from Olympia return to their place of origin forever. The Acropolis Marbles are all returned to their rightful place. A 19-year-old Greek-Australian returns to spend the Olympic year at her special place, enjoying the spiritual uplifting of Athens and the peace and tranquility of Karitsa.

Dream, dream, dream; that maybe, just maybe!

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