CULTURE

A Spanish tribute to Greece

At the end of the 19th century, Catalan historian Antonio Rubio came across a protocol of the Royal Chancery of the Crown of Aragon. The protocol was numbered 1268 and its subject was a eulogy on the Acropolis of Athens composed by Peter IV of Aragon in 1380.

Rubio subsequently traveled to Greece a number of times and during one of his visits delivered the eulogy, in its original language, from the colonnades of the Parthenon.

The story was recently recounted to Kathimerini by Eusebi Ayensa Prat, director of the Cervantes Institute in Athens. Prat added that the Catalan historian?s dream was for a plaque featuring both Greek and Catalan to be placed on the Parthenon, a gesture which would remind future generations that the Catalan forces which came to Athens in the 13th century were not as barbaric or indifferent to beauty as is generally believed.

Rubio?s dream has now been realized, as part of a series of events commemorating the arrival of the Catalans and Aragonians in Athens 700 years ago, organized by the Cervantes Institute in Athens. Featuring four languages — Catalan, Spanish, English and French — the plaque was placed at the Acropolis, marking the words of the Aragonian ruler who spoke of human creativity which goes beyond countries and borders.

The plaque was unveiled by Queen Sofia of Spain on Wednesday, March 23, while the entire project was undertaken by the Cervantes Institute and the Spanish Embassy in Athens together with the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

To coincide with the plaque placement, the European Institute of the Mediterranean and the Cervantes Institute are jointly organizing ?A Sea of Laws,? a large-scale exhibition exploring the diverse cultural heritage of the Mediterranean region. The exhibition, which opens at the Cervantes Institute on March 26, includes rare manuscripts, codices, coins and maps, as well as a 15th-century mural of the ?Madonna Catalana.? The items going on display stem from major collections in Spain and Greece, while the show is complemented by a series of lectures under the title ?1311-2011: 700 Years of Catalan-Aragonian Presence in Athens.?

Cervantes Institute, 23 Mitropoleos, tel 210.364.7233. The exhibition runs to April 16.