CULTURE

The ‘Hours of Byzantium’ in six catalogs

Six impressive catalogs, representing the work of 194 Greek and foreign experts, are the legacy of the monumental exhibition, «Hours of Byzantium,» which was held simultaneously in Thessaloniki, Athens and Mystras from August 2001 through March 2002. The Directorate of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments was responsible for coordinating this vast project. The books are available at the Archaeological Receipts Fund bookstore on Panepistimiou Street and at the archaeological site of Mystras. Their titles are as follows: «Byzantium as the Universe,» «Everyday Life in Byzantium,» «The State of Mystras,» «An Essay on Fortification in Byzantium,» «Eptapyrgio: The Acropolis of Thessaloniki,» and «The Hours of Byzantium: Works and Days in Byzantium.» Presenting the work at the Culture Ministry on May 21, Nikolaos Zias, president of the European Center of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, remarked: «The series of exhibitions titled ‘Hours of Byzantium’ has created another means of approach.» The next speaker, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, described the volumes as being «of the highest quality, aesthetically immaculate.» And he added: «It’s a pity that, despite my efforts and persistence, we haven’t managed to organize a broad distribution system for these publications from the Culture Ministry and the Archaeological Receipts Fund. If a book doesn’t reach the public, it doesn’t exist. There are very few outlets for these exceptional publications.» Angeliki Laiou, professor of Byzantine history at Harvard, prefaced her detailed address about the books with some comments on the need to rethink Byzantium: «In his prologue to the catalogs, the minister writes that the values of Byzantium seem to be being re-evaluated in the modern era. I think this is true – fortunately. But there is still a long way to go before the public gets rid of the idea that Byzantium means a thousand or so years of darkness, and reconcile themselves to the idea that this was a state and a society with remarkable institutions. It had stability and, at the same time, great flexibility, and it was a society with much less intolerance than Western Europe in the Middle Ages, in an economy that combined state intervention with free trade.» Angelos Delivorias, director of the Benaki Museum expressed the wish that «Greece of the post-Byzantine era, the time of foreign rule, might receive the same due treatment as that paid to the period of Hellenism.» Malouchos, a columnist for Kathimerini, has a strong grounding in many issues and international experience. In this book, he raises basic questions about the orientation and choices of Greek policy and society.