Tag Archives: Asia Minor

Aristotle

Aristotle, or Aristoteles, (c.384-322 BC) was born in Stagirus in the Greek colony of Chalcidice, which lies to the north of Greece near Macedon. Aristotle was never an Athenian citizen, despite having spent most of his life in Athens. Nicomachus, Aristotle’s father, was court physician to King Amyntas III of Macedon.

Aristotle came to Athens to study and joined Plato’s Academy in 367 BC. Aristotle became Plato’s best student and was generally felt to be  Plato’s successor. He remained at the Academy until Plato’s death in 347 BC, when, bypassed in the election of the Academy’s next president, Aristotle left Athens with a few students and friends. Continue reading Aristotle

Photis Kontoglou

“Today, after so many years, I still declare that Kontoglou’s work, in all its diverse entirety, has been of immense importance for our generation: it is one of those few creations to have enabled the forgotten voice of the east once more to be heard as it truly deserves, and to remind us of what may be the proper place for a culture destined by its own tradition to stand sovereign between the two great currents that passed across it; to weigh them, to judge them, to retain whatever of them was best, to digest them, and finally – having added a precious part of itself – to return them in a unique and incomparable synthesis.”

Odysseus Elytis, in Photis Kontoglou (Athens: Akritas Editions, 1995)

Photis Kontoglou – Reflections of Byzantium in the 20th Century

Nikolaos Chrysochoou (portrait), Photis Kontoglou, 1924. Collection of Hestia, Nea Smyrni, Athens. Courtesy of the Kontoglou estate.
Nikolaos Chrysochoou (portrait), Photis Kontoglou, 1924. Collection of Hestia, Nea Smyrni, Athens. Courtesy of the Kontoglou estate.

The Greek painter Photis Kontoglou was born in 1895 on the eastern side of the Aegean in the town of Ayvali, Asia Minor, the site of ancient Cydoniae in the land of Ionia, home of Greek poets and philosophers. His great love for Byzantium, the spirituality of the Orthodox Church and beauty of its art, led him to feel that his life’s task was to continue this long and great tradition that included both the era of the glory of the mighty Byzantine empire and the subsequent despondent centuries of subjugation and servitude. Kontoglou felt himself duty-bound to both his ancient predecessors and his contemporaries to uphold and revive this tradition that, in part due to Western influences, had been so casually neglected in the first hundred years’ existence of the modern Greek state (c.1830–1930), and to offer an authentic artistic language by which modern-day Hellenism could express itself. Continue reading Photis Kontoglou

Rebetiko

 – The Greek Blues

Ever since Sappho “loved and sang,” nine-time rhythms have been found on the shores of Asia Minor, in the islands of the eastern Aegean, and in the Dodecanese. Today they are represented by the 9/4 beat of the zeibékikos and the 9/8 beat of the karsilamás.

These two rhythms, in their several variants, and the 2/4 time of the khasápikos are also prevalent in the urban, popular music of the Aegean, which since the final decades of the 19th century has spread from its epicenter, Smyrna, to all harbor towns and so created that marvelous tradition of the rebetiko song. Continue reading Rebetiko