This is the first post in a series of posts on Real Greece,. The events of the last few months have shed a very negative light on Greece, and I feel the need to share with you the “real” Greece, which is the Greece I know.
Today I present sculptures made by Cy Twombly, an American artist who I like very much. The sculptures are named “Thermopylae”, after the narrow passage where the Greeks fought the Persions back in 480 BC, and are paired with the poem of Constantinos Kavafis.
There is also a sibling plaster sculpture, on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
I quote from Jessica Stewart’s text:
“The work is inscribed with lines from modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, who was similarly inspired by the illustrious battle. Twombly often makes bronzes of his “white originals,” and particularly in its cast rendition Thermopylae relates closely to a fifth-century BC battle helmet. The mounded dome from which four tulips rise calls to mind another ancient association, an Etruscan tomb with burgeoning vegetation.
As poet and critic Frank O’Hara suggested in 1955, Twombly’s sculptures are both “witty and funereal”; they are also elegant and coarse, fragile and monumental, visual and literary, and above all, ancient and contemporary. Metamorphosis is an essential aspect of Twombly’s works, and these dualities highlight the depths of meaning contained in their often quotidian forms. Twombly’s spare wooden constructions–or their bronze surrogates–distill archaic sources and present them in a uniquely modern language of form.”
Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae,
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they’re rich, an when they’re
still generous is small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.
And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee )
that Ephialtis wil turn up in the end,
that the Medes will break through after all.