Monday 28 November 2022
Wednesday 30 November 2022
In November, the SNFCC Book Club continues its meetings, facilitated by writer Dimosthenis Papamarkos.
Dimosthenis Papamarkos was born in 1983 in Malesina of Locris. He studied Ancient Greek History in Athens and Oxford. He has published novels, short stories and graphic novels. In 2014, his short story collection Ghiak, which has been translated into Russian and German, earned him the Petros Haris Foundation / Academy of Athens award, as well as the award for best Short Story/Novella of the magazine Anagnostis. Papamarkos has also written theater and screenplays, and has translated classical Greek dramas for productions of the National Theater of Greece and the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. While an Onassis Artistic Research Fellow, he wrote the theatrical play Ston Koraka. He works as a content creator for projects of the Faliro House film productions company.
On Monday, November 28, Book Club facilitator Dimosthenis Papamarkos will welcome participants at the Book Castle, to exchange views based on the book of the month.
On Wednesday, November 30, the Book Club’s meeting will take place online via Zoom.
November: Plutarch, Parallel Lives – The Life of Demetrius
“When the Macedonians deserted him
and showed they preferred Pyrrhos,
King Dimitrios (a noble soul) didn’t behave
—so they said—
At all like a king.
He took off his golden robes,
threw away his purple buskins,
and quickly dressing himself
in simple clothes, he slipped out—
just like an actor who,
the play over,
changes his costume and goes away.” *
[*Translation by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, edited by George Savidis. Translation copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.]
Constantine P. Cavafy wrote the above poem, “King Dimitrios,” inspired by a passage from Plutarch’s “Life of Demetrius Ι Poliorcetes.” The poem exemplifies not only Cavafy’s ability to capture the atmosphere of the Hellenistic times with admirable clarity, but also the ongoing unabated appeal of Plutarch’s works through the centuries. Notably, it is Plutarch’s original text that ultimately defines both the content and the theme of the poem. The ancient writer tells the life of Demetrius I Poliorcetes, one of the most famous descendants (or Epigones) of Alexander the Great, almost with a fiction-making intention. His goal is to outline the character of Demetrius and to shed a literary light on the historical figure as a dramatic persona — an actor on a stage that is his life. Quite telling of Plutarch’s approach is the very last sentence of The Life of Demetrius, which also serves as an introduction to the “Parallel Life” of Marcus Antonius: Διηγωνισμένου δὲ τοῦ Μακεδονικοῦ δράματος, ὥρα τὸ Ῥωμαϊκὸν ἐπεισαγαγεῖν (trnsl: And now that the Macedonian play has been performed, let us introduce the Roman).
The Life of Plutarch
The son of Autobulus, Plutarch was born in Chaeronea of Boeotia around the middle of the 1st century AD and died at the end of the 2nd decade of the 2nd century AD. Born to a prominent family of Chaeronea, he studied mathematics and philosophy in Athens. He lived most of his life in his place of origin, which he served as a magistrate and archon. He was inducted in the Apollonian Mysteries and, for the last decades of his life, served as one of the two priests at the Oracle of Delphi, who were responsible for interpreting Pythia’s prophecies. He was also epimeletes (manager) of the Amphictyonic League of Delphi for five terms, and responsible for organizing the Pythian Games. He was awarded the Roman citizenship, traveled extensively within the territory of the Roman Empire, and found himself twice in Rome where he taught philosophy. There he developed close relations with prominent Romans of the time, among whom the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. According to subsequent sources, Hadrian appointed him procurator of Achaea, which entitled him to wear the vestments and ornaments of a consul. Plutarch wrote a large number of philosophical texts, essays, rhetorical speeches, and biographies. Possibly his best-known work is “Parallel Lives,” a series of biographies of eminent Greeks and Romans, presented in pairs with the aim of better highlighting the common characteristics of the personalities portrayed. Plutarch’s work was extremely popular among Roman and Greek readers of his time. In the centuries that followed, it retained its popularity, to the degree that it had a catalytic effect on the works of renowned European writers and intellectuals, such as Shakespeare, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lord of Montaigne, and others.
Monday 28/11 | 18.30-20.30NLG BOOK CASTLE
For adults | Up to 30 participants
Free of charge; online preregistration required
Wednesday 30/11 | 18.30-20.30ZOOM
For adults | Up to 50 participants
Free of charge; online preregistration required
Pre-registration starts on 01/11, at 12.00
Facilitator: Dimosthenis Papamarkos
To participate in the Reading Club, it is necessary for those who hold a position to have read the book of the month. (It is also useful to have it with them).
The Life of Demetrius from Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives” is available in modern Greek from Zitros Publishing.
As part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center's collaboration with the National Library of Greece, the book for the Reading Club has been chosen by NLG staff members.