Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mythical Orpheus - the next Balkanization?

Somebody can ask - what is doing in a Signs of the Times type page a mythical hero like Orpheus? I can answer simply by quoting some excerpts from a recent article:

Last week, Greek tour operators usurped one of the most popular and fascinating mythical figures of the Thracians - that of deified royal descendant Orpheus. He is looked upon as one of the chief poets and musicians of antiquity, whose lyre mastery could charm the wild beasts and even draw trees and rocks from their places and stop rivers from flowing.

It is no wonder that the beautiful legend of Orpheus has inspired many artpieces worldwide, including Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo, the operetta Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach, the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending, Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, a modernized version in Nick Cave's song The Lyre of Orpheus, as well as numerous film retellings.

The Mythical artist has also become a key figure of Greek legend, although various sources mention that Orpheus was borrowed by the Greeks from their Thracian neighbors. With Greek tour operators now advertising their destination as "the land of mythical Orpheus," borrowing has turned into theft.

We see above some very hardly spoken words like "usurped", "theft". At the same time there is a reasonable question - who were these Thracians, who exactly were the Greeks from these ancient times? And as we dig deeper and deeper in this controversial matter, we find more and more confirmations of the millennia old maxim - the history is (re)written by the conquerors...

But let me quote again from the article:

"Even if we want to put it mildly, the Greek move is nothing but a theft, and a theft that makes money," Associate Professor Krassimir Leshtakov told Bulgarian journalists on Wednesday. Leshtakov recalled on how the Troy blockbuster recently boosted fivefold land price where ancient Troy was, as the movie had sparkled a craze among US and German tourists.

Well, well, well... Now the things are more clear. The ongoing discussion is not about the history at all, to put it myself mildly. The discussion, and probably the near future institutional battle is about money. And when something smells of money, the players could be very hostile and powerful indeed.

The sad fact is that obviously many people are forgotten, or even worse - never have known this simple term Balkanization. Let me remind you what is written in the dictionary:

To divide (a region or territory) into small, often hostile units.
[From the political division of the Balkans in the early 20th century.]

No more comments. Let's see what will show us the future...


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