The Olympic Flame Torch Relay continues its way around Greece, visiting Komotini, Xanthi, Katerini and Larissa on Monday before traveling toward Athens on Tuesday evening. Yet as it heads from Marathon to Athens on Tuesday, along the authentic course of the Marathon Race, the statue erected at Rafina portraying the ancient messenger who gave the Athenians the message of victory over the Persians in 490 BC will be missing: It was stolen earlier this year, but at least the local authority and its sculptor have told Kathimerini the statue will be replaced soon.
According to the historic sources, including Plutarch, Pheidippides was the messenger who ran from Athens to Sparta and back to ask for help ahead of the Battle of Marathon, but it was a warrior called Efklis who was ordered by the general of the Athenians, Miltiades, to run to Athens and announce the victory at Marathon.
Efklis’s statue was created in 1997 (the year Athens was awarded the 2004 Olympics) by sculptor Cosmas Tsolakos. Another sculpture of his, with the five Olympic circles, adorns the Museum of the Marathon Run at the town of Marathon. Greek and foreign Marathon runners know this statue well, as it has been there for nearly two decades helping them with its presence by the roadside to perform better in the race.
This statue, that was made of brass, was stolen in January, despite its huge size, estimated at some 500 kilograms. Tsolakos told Kathimerini that it must have taken a crane to lift the statue and steal it.
Rafina deputy mayor Evangelos Bournous even announced then that he would give his month’s salary (some 1,200 euros) to anyone offering information about the statue heist, so that it could be found, but to no avail so far.
Speaking to Kathimerini, Bournous expressed his disappointment at the theft of the Efklis statue, and went on to pledge that the City of Rafina will pay in full for its replacement. “We just have to do it,” he stressed.
Sculptor Tsolakos made no secret of his disgust with the “anti-Greeks”, as he said, who stole the statue, and confirmed to Kathimerini that he will seek the mold at the foundry to make a new one just like the original statue. He also showed his eagerness to recreate the statue saying: “Even if the mold is not found I will be able to create a new one based on the digital photos of the original.”
Bournous added that he is expecting a cost estimate by the sculptor to have the funding approved by the city council and proceed with the financing of the new statue. He also estimated that whoever stole it would probably sell it as it is, and not melt it to use the raw material.