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Dame Helen Mirren at Epidaurus Theatre

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Following the instructions of Royal National Theatre’s artistic director Nicholas Hytner, Oscar-winning British actress Helen Mirren and co-star Dominic Cooper received widespread praise for Racine’s “Phedre” – based on Euripides’s play “Hippolytus”– performed on June 11 at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, as part of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. Phèdre, recounts the story of a queen’s destructive obsession with her stepson, filtered through the eyes of a 17th century French playwright and the freewheeling translation of a British poet, Ted Hughes.  The night of the performance, the theatre was filled with admirers of both Mirren and the ancient Greek drama, with visitors coming from Greece and abroad.   Epidaurus Theatre is to host other prominent artists this summer, including British director Sam Mendes and veteran French actress Jeanne Moreau in the coming weeks.  The Times: Dame Helen Mirren is worthy of the Epidaurus   Athens and Epidaurus Festival: www.greekfestival.gr

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International Symposium on Social-Democrasy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   “Social-democracy and the challenges of the future. Which will be the progressive model for Europe?” is the title of an international symposium that Greek newspaper To Vima and Spanish newspaper El Pais are jointly organising on May 12 at the Athens Concert Hall as part of the Megaron Plus series.  Socialist International and PASOK Party President George Papandreou will open the Athens Symposium and Segolene Royal –French presidential candidate in 2007- will deliver the keynote speech. Prominent figures in international social-democracy will participate in the event – among which former Prime Ministers of Spain, Italy and Greece Felipe Gonzalez, Massimo d’ Alema and Costas Simitis.  (Photo from prior visit- Greek News Agenda: Papandreou & Socialist MP Ségolène Royal)

The Impact of Byzantium

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The 18th Runciman Lecture was delivered on February 5, at King’s College London by distinguished Professor Judith Herrin, whose latest book “Byzantium: the Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire” has been recently translated into Greek. Under the title “We are all children of Byzantium”, Professor Herrin traced, during her lecture, some of the less obvious ways in which Byzantium continues to have an impact on world civilization today.  Noting that thanks to the efforts of a multitude of scholars -as well as events such as the ongoing exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts “Byzantium 330-1453“- many of the negative stereotypes traditionally associated with Byzantium are being countered by substantive demonstrations of what the empire achieved in its millennial history, she drew attention to the “larger family” of “real, symbolic and imagined children of Byzantium” that enriches our perception of the great civilization. Kathimerini daily (7/2/09): “We are all the children of Byzantium” (abridged version of Professor Herrin’s lecture) 

Preview of the New Acropolis Museum in London

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     A presentation of the New Acropolis Museum, organized jointly by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is taking place in London on December 2-3 (New Acropolis Museum: The London Preview). Professor Pandermalis, President of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum and Bernard Tschumi, lead Architect of the New Acropolis Museum will be guest speakers at the two-day event which will be held at RIBA’s Jarvis Hall, under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture.  On December 3, Pandermalis and Tschumi will deliver a lecture on the “architectural challenge” that was the project of the construction of the New Acropolis Museum at a workshop intended for architecture students from all architecture departments in the United Kingdom.

Greece: Exceptional Find Unearthed

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Archaeologists apparently uncovered one of most fascinating finds to date at the archaeological site of Vergina, northern Greece, earlier this week, namely, an immense cylindrical copper vessel inside of which was a slightly smaller, similar vessel. The exquisite artefact contained an oak wreath crafted in gold, lying atop human bones and immersed in water amid roots. The find is considered exceptional, as the wreath is almost equal in quality and dimensions to those found at the Royal Tombs at Vergina (Modern name of the city Aigai, the ancient first capital of the kingdom of Macedonia). The city of Aigai was discovered during the 19th century and is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The most important remains are the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus (photo) is identified as that of Philip II, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world.  It remains a mystery for the archaeologists of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who run the excavations why such a complete find was found outside the limits of the extensive cemetery of the royal necropolis. Athens News Agency: Exceptional find in Vergina; Ministry of Culture: Building for the protection of the royal tombs of Vergina; UNESCO: Archaeological site of Aigai