Saturday, 12 July 2008

Ancient Kydonia

Every time some soil in the main town of Hania is dug up, whether it's for sewage, pipe or cable laying, or construction of houses and large buildings, ancient artefacts, or maybe some foundations of an ancient house or building are discovered, which show the history of the area and add to our knowledge of what life was like for the citizens of the town from past centuries. These digs are found in the area of Koum Kapi. One of the ancient names given to Hania was Kydonia, hence the area has been called "Ancient Kydonia" (which by the way is also the word in Greek for quince).

A year ago, the NZ Parliament called for Britain to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, which was welcomed by the NZ Parthenon marbles committee.

Boy, those Greeks cause so much trouble
For the loss of ancient marble
From the site of Parthenona -
You would think it was a mecca
Of some kind - but wait a minute;
To get in you need a ticket
To admire Greek works of art
Which will touch your soul and heart.

To see the Doric columns high
Rise above the clear blue sky
Like old stumps from olive trees.
But what is missing? It's the frieze!
Yet still they stand proud on the hill
Where St Paul preached goodwill to all,
Denuded of their jewel atop
When Elgin heaved a mighty chop!

Lord Elgin went to so much trouble
To turn the frieze into mere rubble,
To gather and store the ancient stone
So he could sell it off at home.

But no one wanted it for money,
So he bequeathed it to the country
Who thought: "Good oh, now we have something
That will look good with Egypt's mummy
And Chinese jade and Turkish weapons
We chanced upon in foreign lands.
But where to put them - let us build
The best museum in the world!"

And so they started scrubbing white
The marbles so they shone in light.
Alas! Too late they re-a-lised
The marbles looked like dynamite
Had ruined their outer appearance
And showed signs that they were to perish
In that stately grand museum
Where all go if they want to see them.

And now those rabble-rousing Grecos
Are saying that the marble curios
Do not deserve to stand alone
With all the rest of them at home
Under the clear blue sky of Greece -
Let's have them back! Return them, please!

This post is dedicated to the late Zisis (Bruce) Blades.

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  1. Kalimera! I wish one day I could see Hania. In the 80's and 90's I visited Crete five times but I never saw Hania. Agios Nikolaos, Rethymno, Hersonissos, Iraklio, Matala, Agia Gallini, Faragi Samarias... and other places yes but never Hania. Shame on me! Next time I come to Crete I'll have the xenodohio in Hania or nearby.

  2. history history everywhere! so much to unearth so much to learn! fascinating!

  3. Yia sou Maria

    Thanks so much for this touching dedication to Dad.



  4. i was extremely saddened by his loss, he sent me his book last year, as we say in greek ,may you have many years to remember him. my email is