CULTURE

‘Athens-Sparta’ showcase to open at Onassis Center in New York on December 5

At a press conference this week on the exhibition «Athens-Sparta: From the 8th to the 5th Centuries BC,» which opens in New York on December 5, the Onassis Foundation’s president Antonis Papadimitriou told the journalists, «Churchill once said that reading the Peloponnesian Wars told one all there was to know about the secrets of warfare.» The Onassis Cultural Center, a subsidiary of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, is to host the exhibition of 289 artifacts from the two ancient cities that are being shown abroad for the first time. Athens and Sparta were often at war, but the exhibition shows that even at times of great rivalry, civilization did not stop developing, according to Nikos Kaltsas, director of the National Archaeological Museum of Greece. The exhibition, to which admission is free, will last until May 12, 2007. The cover of the 300-page catalog shows a warrior, his head bent in thought, a detail from a piece of Athenian pottery in the Archaeological Museum. One wonders what the New Yorkers will make of the bust titled «Leonidas,» the warrior who fell with his 300 men fighting against the Persians at Thermopylae, exhibited along with arrowheads and spearheads from the legendary battle. «The exhibition is of historic, cultural and artistic interest that closes a cycle of events marking the foundation’s 30th anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the death of Aristotle Onassis and the 100th anniversary of his birth,» Papadimitriou said. The many valuable artifacts have been brought to New York so that visitors can see the differences between the two Greek city-states at the philosophical and sociopolitical level, whose effects on cultural and human behavior have lasted until this the present.