CULTURE

An excerpt from the Greek diary in London

In January the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK) and Matti Egon, its founder, invited academic Spyros Iakovides to discuss the clever ways the Greeks protected their artistic treasures during the German occupation, as C.N. Hadjipateras had published the fascinating volume «Martyries» (with co-author Maria Fafaliou-Dragone) about the same time. Recently (Nov. 19), the Society of Greek Professionals and Scientists held the first Dr Costas N. Hadjipateras Annual Memorial Lecture, «Cavafy’s Voices,» at the same Hellenic Center. Professor Peter Mackridge spoke most eloquently on Cavafy: «The chief aim of our event is to affirm the importance of voice in Cavafy’s poetry. The voice of the poet himself, the voices of historical characters or the voices of loved ones remembered from the past.» The poems, most movingly read by actor Costas Castanas in beautiful Greek, made a powerful impression on the audience which had filled the hall in spite of the protest marches against President Bush. For those unfortunate enough not to understand Greek, the new translation by Evangelos Sachperoglou was provided in the program and much praised by the lecturer. Sachperoglou said, «I was astonished how much I learned from Professor Mackridge, one of the very few who has truly studied and understood the inner workings of Cavafy’s versification, the unusual interplay of assonances and consonances which defy translation.» A historical detail, soaked in innocent blood: The Al Qaeda bomb in Istanbul hit Pera House (UK Consulate General), built in 1800 by Lord Elgin. It was burnt down in 1831, rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry (architect of Britain’s Parliament), and finished in 1844. It was also the home of George Canning, a British politician, and remained the British Embassy until Ataturk moved the capital to Ankara.