[MGSA-L] Modern Greek Seminar, Oxford

Kostas Skordyles kostas.skordyles at mod-langs.ox.ac.uk
Wed Mar 5 01:18:48 PST 2014

Modern Greek Seminar
Thursday 6 March 2014 5 pm
ground floor lecture room
47 Wellington Square
Oxford  OX1 2JF
Eleftheria Ioannidou
(University of Birmingham)

Delphic Festivals, Mythologies, Genealogies

The Delphic Festivals organised by Eva Palmer and Angelos Sikelianos in 1927 and 1930 were celebrated by ancient enthusiasts but met with skepticism among Marxist critics who viewed the Delphic vision as symptomatic of the decadent elitism of the bourgeoisie. Recently, Gonda van Steen has maintained that the social critique of the Festivals was in fact responding to a distinct fascist streak, conMirmed by Sikelianosʼs overt references to Aryanism. Whilst the parallels between the Festivals and fascist forms of open-air performance are arguably present, the effort to revive the Delphic Idea seems to be part of a more intricate cultural and ideological process in the inter-war period. The paper will propose a genealogical rethinking of the Delphic Festivals, uncovering their afMinity with the imaginary discourses of origin within modernity. Both the universalist call as well as the appeal to an elect spiritual community underlying the Delphic endeavour can be understood as inherent to the logic of origin. The performances which took place at the site of Delphi sought to recover a lost unity and spirituality through the enactment of a primordial transhistorical antiquity: the staging of Aeschylusʼs ʽarchaicʼ plays, the utilisation of dance and ritual elements and the continuity between ancient art and contemporary crafts, all afMirmed a mythopoetic which could remedy the discontents of modern culture. In this respect, the elitist model reproached by the critics lies at the crucial turning point where cultural decadence transformed into a narrative of regeneration which fed into fascism.

Advance note: there will be a further seminar on Thursday 13 March, given by Prof. Vangelis Karamanolakis (Athens) on 'Historians and the trauma of the past. The destruction of security citizens’ records in Greece (1989).
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