GREEK CULTURE – ANCIENT GREEK TECHNOLOGY – THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM. The Antikythera mechanism was recovered from a shipwreck found in 1900 by sponge divers off the island of Antikythera.
Built in Hellenistic times, this intricate device was used for astronomical calculations and has been described as the oldest analogue computer. Its more than 30 bronze gearwheels rotated pointers over different dials. Thus, manually selecting a date on the main dial – which represented the zodiac, as well as the solar and lunar years – shifted the smaller gears, so that the pointers on the other dials indicated the position of the selected date in the four-year cycle of the Panhellenic games (Olympia, Pythia, Isthmia, Nemea), the positions of the five then-known planets and the correlation with astronomy cycles that were of particular interest to the ancient Greeks.
The mechanism also predicted solar and lunar eclipses. Research on the mechanism, which has fascinated scholars for decades, is still ongoing under the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, which, using advanced imaging technologies, continues to provide impressive new insights into the mechanism’s complex inner workings.
Commemorative coin 2 euro dedicated to the anniversary of 200 years since the introduction of the first Greek constitution.
From 20 December 1821 to 16 January 1822, the revolted Greeks held their first National Assembly at Nea Epidavros (known then as Piada), which adopted modern Greece’s first government charter, the Provisional Constitution of Greece.
CULTURAL HERITAGE – THE ANCIENT THEATRE OF EPIDAURUS.
The ancient theatre of Epidaurus, one of the best preserved of antiquity, is located on the grounds of a sanctuary to the healing god Asclepius. Attributed to the architect Polykleitos, it was constructed in the late 4th century BC, with subsequent additions. The cavea of the theatre, built into the natural hillside, comprises an upper and lower tier, separated by a walkway. The circular orchestra, 19.54 m. in diameter, was where the chorus performed, while the actors moved about the proscenium of a two-storey stage building, of which only the foundations survive.
Excavated by Panagiotis Kavvadias in 1881-83, the theatre required only limited restoration. The first modern-day revival of Greek drama at Epidaurus was directed by Dimitris Rontiris in 1938. Since 1954, the theatre has become the venue of the Epidaurus Festival, hosting mainly ancient tragedy and comedy productions. Thousands of spectators thus have an opportunity every summer to admire the theatre’s renowned acoustics and enjoy the unique experience of ancient drama in its natural setting.
George Gordon Byron (London 1788-Missolonghi 1824) was an emblematic figure of European Romanticism and one of the most important poets of the 19th century.
From a very young age, he embraced liberal and philhellenic ideals. His Grand Tour of the Mediterranean in 1809 brought him to Greece, to which he dedicated the second canto of his defining poetic work, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
The outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821 set fire to Byron’s romantic soul. He ultimately moved to Greece in 1823 in order to take part in the struggle and settled in Missolonghi, where he spent much of his fortune on setting up military and naval units. However, he was never to see action, as his life was cut short on 19 April 1824, following a serious illness. His untimely death was a tragic loss and was deeply mourned by the Greeks, but at the same time boosted philhellenic sentiment around the world.
Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was one of the most popular Olympian deities. According to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, while according to Hesiod, she was born from the sea foam produced by Ouranos’s genitals, severed by his son Kronos. Her birthplace was contested by Paphos (Cyprus) and Kythera, hence her epithets Kypris and Kythereia. She was worshipped as Aphrodite Ourania (the heavenly) and Pandemos (“of all folk”, the vulgar), alluding, respectively, to spiritual and to sensual love. Although married to Hephaistos, Aphrodite had numerous lovers, including gods (most notably Ares) and mortals (Adonis or Anchises, to whom she bore Aeneas, progenitor of the Romans). One tradition portrays her as mother of Eros (Cupid), the mischievous winged god. Over the centuries, Aphrodite has inspired such masterpieces of art as the Knidian Aphrodite (by Praxiteles), the Venus de Milo and the Birth of Venus (by Boticelli).
Ares, son of Zeus and Hera, was the god of war. His children from his adulterous affair with Aphrodite, the wife of Hephaistos, included Harmonia (who later wed Cadmos, the founder of Thebes) and his companions in battle, Phobos and Deimos (embodiments of fear and dread, respectively). In contrast with his sister Athena, who represented protection of cities and strategy,
Ares was associated with the blind brutality of war. This explains why he was not popular with the Greeks, who – despite their frequent wars and high regard for military valour – were not a bellicose people. Even his own father, Zeus, in the Iliad calls him the most loathsome of the Olympian gods because of his belligerent nature. Very few temples were devoted to Ares in the Greek world (in Troizina, Geronthrai and Alikarnassos).
As for the Temple of Ares in the ancient agora of Athens, it had originally been erected in some other community of Attica, in honour perhaps of another god, before being moved to the centre of Athens and rededicated to Ares during the reign of Augustus, probably in connection with the Roman cult of Mars Ultor.
SILVER COLLECTOR COIN 10 EURO DEDICATED TO: “80 YEARS FROM THE BATTLE OF CRETE”. The Battle of Crete (20 May – 1 June 1941) was one of the most dramatic episodes of World War II. After occupying the rest of Greece, the Germans launched an unprecedented airborne operation on Crete, spearheaded by parachutists who were to seize the airfields so that ground troops could then be landed. The island was defended by Cretan civilians, the remnants of the Greek Army (without its Cretan Division, stranded on the mainland), as well as British, Australian and New Zealand allies. After suffering heavy losses on day one of the Battle,
the Germans seized the Maleme airfield on day two and thereafter occupied the entire island. The heroic resistance of the Cretan people won them worldwide admiration, but also led to harsh German reprisals.