Imagine if art could talk.
With the depth and insights of a wise elder, Dennis Menos, author of several books on arms control and cultural heritage, gives voice to Karyatis, the lone Caryatid statute standing quietly in the British Musuem to Sophie, a visiting art student in his latest book, Purview: Her View, Eye Witness to History.
Karyatis weaves the tale of her life having witnessed great moments in history – the excellence of an empire, the fountain source of political thought, leadership, cultural heritage, art, knowledge that modern civilizations would drink from for centuries to come and then eventually war, loss and barren principles and emptiness.
Menos, crafts the story with voices and tales from Zeus, Athena, Pericles, Socrates, Plato, Alexander the Great and other monumental figures in world history. As though sitting in a comfortable arm chair, Menos begins with …
Still here. Still in a place I’d rather not be. A captive in the British Museum!
In an earlier era, Goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus the omnipotent, would have rushed to my help. I was the one statue in all of Hellas she favored most for I stood on hallowed ground, on the very spot where she had fought Poseidon, the god of the sea, for the honor of being the patron of the city of Athens. A fight which she won, of course.
But, sadly, Athena is no more.
Karyatis tells of her first days with the Greek gods to the founding of Christianity to eventually being taken down from the Erechtheion at the Acropolis by the then Ambassador of Britain to the Ottoman Empire Lord Elgin to be presented in Room 19 in the British Museum, where she observes the many dignitaries and tourists who come to visit.
Sophie, the art student, is the only one who hears Karyatis and connects the past to the present world of preservation, art and museum collections.
Menos writes, prophetically,
In a strange oddity of history, the less political power and influence Athens possessed, the more important it became as a center of culture and civilization.
A statue, a tale and world history come together through the voice of the Karyatis longing to return to home, to Greece. Purview: Her View is a delightful book to read and share with those curious about history of the Hellenes (Greek people) and their contribution to the world knowledge we experience today and the on-going global campaign for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographers, Washington, D.C. (Please follow 9 Muses News copyright use policy.)