CULTURE

AHR covers 3,000 years with depth and lively prose

Now pushing into its 30th year, The Anglo-Hellenic Review remains a well-written, condensed (ca. 30 pages) biannual newsletter covering Greece from a decidedly British angle. It perpetuates strong Anglo-Greek ties while providing an accessible window into the flourishing literature on Greece. The Spring 2004 edition nicely mixes modern and ancient in its three headline articles. First is Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith’s insightful take on the 1896 Olympics, including the Greek bid to become permanent Games host and the 2004 effort. The flame goes on June 26 to London (which hosted the 1908 and 1948 Games) and coincides with special events there. His book «Olympics in Athens 1896» comes out in June. Gerald Cadogan gives a delightfully rambling, personal look at Crete during his four decades as chairman of the British School in Athens and excavator at Knossos and in southern Crete. The theme, not surprisingly, is the island’s changes, not always to his liking, from near-Bronze Age farming conditions to the jet age in a few short years. He also explores the continuity – in the land, the independence of attitude, the sensitivity to history, and the open hearts. And he sees «formidable» improvement in education (a university with its own book press) via an «ever-growing spirit of skepticism,» not least among the «squads of students slogging through the scrub.» This is followed by a Paul Cartledge piece on Sparta, adapted from his book «The Spartans.» This peerless profiler of the anti-Athens of antiquity delights in debunking myths surrounding Sparta, so easily painted into a totalitarian corner but now drawing renewed interest. Intellectuals from Plato to Rousseau have admired it, while the «suicidal but heroic stand» at Thermopylae in 480 BC provided a gloss that other ills could not wipe away. Part II appears in the fall edition. News briefs lead to an interesting piece by Dimitris Papanikolaou on «Cinema as a political act» on two directors with contrasting styles, Costa-Gavras and Angelopoulos, the one pacy and the other ponderous, yet with a common overlay of political consciousness. Some 27 recent titles are reviewed, ranging from ancient philosophy and history to biographies (Thucydides, Euripides, Seferis, even Bacchus), Byzantium and the Crusades, and modern ethnicity, politics, and literature, and wrapping up with Patrick Leigh Fermor’s compilation «Words of Mercury.» Best to read up for yourselves, with pleasure.