CULTURE

Runciman remembered in London

The late Sir Steven Runciman, the leading Byzantinologist of his time, was a deeply religious man, a friend of Greece and regular visitor to Mt Athos, where the libraries provided him with source material for his famous books. Byzantium was his personal homeland, next to his real one, Scotland. While Runciman was still alive, his close friend Nicholas Egon established the Runciman Lecture to be held on the first Thursday every February and a dinner in honor of the speaker, who this year was Professor Peter Brown of Princeton who spoke on «Between Syria and Egypt, Alms, Work and the Origins of Byzantine Monasticism.» Brown studied the lives of the ordinary saints who first went out to teach the word about Christ without any material possessions, just their faith in their mission, offering prayers in the villages of Syria and Iraq. «They expected to be supported entirely by the alms of those to whom they ministered,» he said. Afterward, congratulations came from Cambridge Professor Peter Garnsey, the principal of King’s College Professor Rick Trainor and from Judith Herrin, a member of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, a writer and professor of Byzantine Studies at King’s, as well as from Dr Karim Arafat, director of the college’s Center of Greek Studies. In the front row was Greek Ambassador to London Anastassios Skopelitis and his wife and Syrian Ambassador Amina Khiyami. At the dinner at the Athenaeum Club was Lord Jellicoe, who had fought with Chris Woodhouse in Greece during the occupation, and was the first Briton to enter Athens with the liberation army.