Diana Probst: Sketching the gods

Laocoon by Diana Probst

Diana Probst is a professional artist based in Cambridge, UK. Diana has kindly given me permission to reproduce some of her sketches of ancient Greek scultures. Below the images, Diana adds some remarks on her choice of subject and the influence of Greek culture on her work. First is a sketch of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

Diana writes: ‘I could never be the artist I am without the influence of Greek culture. The development of statuary from the stylised Egyptian traditions to the fluid, lifelike stone work of the city states created work that I love to look at today. This is one of my earliest sketches, the lines solidified to allow me to recreate it in ink with no tonal work. To get there, I had to sit in a cast museum, surrounded by images that were two thousand years old. The Aphrodite of Knidos was […]

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Charles Fernyhough: The goddess Athena

Detail from black-figure ceramic amphora depicting the birth of Athena from Zeus' head,

Charles Fernyhough

The goddess Athena sprang, fully armed, from a bump on her father’s head. Other versions of the myth associate her birth with water, with a stream or a lake, which may reflect her origin in the earth goddesses of the pre-Hellenics. In Greek mythology, however, she is a virgin goddess. In Book Seven of the Odyssey, she appears to Odysseus as a little girl in pigtails, hugging a water jug. The poet tells us that she retains her grey eyes, and yet her divine disguise is not compromised: Odysseus does not recognise her. Our daughter Athena was also born with grey eyes, for me at least the ultimate vindication of our name-choice. A prophecy had been fulfilled, and it was just one of the things I was delighted about. It took a few weeks for me to be relieved of this delusion, and have it gently pointed out […]

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Victoria Hislop: The tragedy of my beloved Greece

Victoria Hislop with two Greek actors

My passion for Greece began the day I first went on holiday there 30 years ago, and has intensified ever since. I have been at the “party” that Greece once was. Now I am sharing the hangover. And it is desperately painful and sad.

I travel to Greece most months, to give talks on my novels, to work on adapting The Island into a 26-part miniseries for local television, and to research writing projects.

I have learnt the language well enough to appear on live television, and over the past five years have become so much part of this country that on arrival I do not always have to show my passport. I also have a house in Crete, which means I pay taxes. I can’t vote — which, in some ways, I am glad about, as I would be torn between a series of equally nightmarish scenarios.

The […]

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Stuart Franklin: The Greek landscape in flux

Stuart Franklin is a world-famous, award-winning photographer, and former president of Magnum Photos. He has kindly given me permission to reproduce his photograph of the deserted village of Anthochori in Arcadia, which appeared in his book Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux (Thames & Hudson, 2008). ‘Anthochori’ means ‘village of flowers’.

 

Stuart has commented on the image:

‘To the ancient Greeks, Arcadia was a rural idyll. Instead of a lush, bucolic landscape, I found one devastated by the hunt for fossil fuels. Sixty per cent of Greece’s electricity is derived from lignite (brown coal). This involves bulldozing whole landscapes to feed the nearby power station. In Megalopolis I found Greece’s second largest lignite mine. The village of Anthohori in Arcadia was wiped off the map – the church of Santa Maria was all that remained’ Source.

It’s a wonderful image, rich with metaphors for the condition […]

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Stephen Fry's modest proposal

Stephen Fry is, in his own words, ‘a philhellene who believes that any debt Greece may be in now is as nothing compared to the debt we owe Greece’ (email to the site editor 12/3/12).

In December 2011, Stephen wrote an article entitled ‘A modest proposal’, in which he reflected on our Greek heritage and argued for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from London to Athens, for display in the new Acropolis Museum. Such an act, he argued, timed to coincide with the UK’s hosting of the Olympic Games, would be a beautiful gesture, demonstrating gratitude to, and solidarity with, a country that has given the world so much and is currently suffering so greatly:

Greece made us. We owe them. They are ready for [the Marbles’] return and have never needed such morale boosting achievement more. And it would be so graceful, so apt, so right.

What greater […]

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