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Lectures on the History and Culture of Cyprus

Short summaries of the Lectures:

16 October: Through the Looking-Glass: Reflections on the Image of the 'Cypriot',
by Professor ANTONIS TSAKMAKIS (University of Cyprus)

ABSTRACT: The lecture will examine the definition and self-definition of the 'Cypriot' from the earliest sources to the Middle Ages. A survey through mythical tradition, literary texts, historical and autobiographical accounts by Greek authors of both Cypriot and non-Cypriot origin or culture, reveals significant aspects of the perception of Cypriot qualities through the centuries. As the 'Greek' meets the 'Cypriot' and the Greek Panhellenic ideal or the Oecumenical spirit of Eastern Christianity meets the local element on an island which has been a crossroad of civilizations, a fruitful dialogue takes place and produces those distinct attributes which gives Cyprus and its people a very special place within Greek thought and literary imagery.

23 October: 'Greeks', 'Phoenicians' and 'Eteocypriots': Ethnic Identities in the Cypriot Kingdoms, by Professor MARIA IACOVOU (University of Cyprus)

ABSTRACT: In view of the limitations of the archaeological and epigraphical evidence, the indiscriminate use in literature of ethnic attributes - 'Greek', 'Phoenician', 'Eteocypriot'-implies that the complexity as well as the poor documentation of the history of Cyprus in the Iron Age have not been fully acknowledged. A more intimate understanding of the preceding Late Bronze Age and the episodes that determined the island's successful passage to the second to the first millennium BC, episodes which had shaped its political choices and cultural traditions, is bound to rectify our perception regarding ethnic identities, state boundaries and political affiliations in the Iron Age.

30 October: British Collectors of Manuscripts Visiting Cyprus in the Nineteenth Century,
by Professor COSTAS N. CONSTANTINIDES (University of Ioannina)

ABSTRACT: The manuscript collections in the British isles were created by the acquisition of private libraries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. British humanists seem to have shown interest in manuscripts rather late, the main bulk of the collections of the Christian East being dispersed as a result of the loss of Constantinople in 1453, of the activities of the humanists in Italy in the fifteenth century, as well as of the royal circles in France in the seventeenth century. Three British scholars of the nineteenth century visited Cyprus either out of curiosity, as is the case for Edward Daniel Clarke in 1801, or to investigate the collections of manuscripts, like Henry Octavius Coxe in 1857, or even to acquire manuscripts in situ, as did Tankerville Chamberlayne, Major in the British army serving there in the 1890s. This lecture will examine briefly the results of the activities of these three personalities, following their own reports and their notes in manuscripts.

6 November: Languages and Scripts in Ancient Cyprus,
by Professor ANNA PANAYOTOU-TRIANTAPHYLLOPOULOU (University of Cyprus)

ABSTRACT: The lecture covers and to some extent analyses current research on the linguistic situation in Cyprus during the second and first millennium BC, through the corresponding syllabic or alphabetic scripts. The following will be examined in their context: the older so-called 'Cypro-Minoan' syllabic script and the theories about the language(s) it rendered; the Cypriot syllabary (with its local variants) and the Cypriot Greek dialect; the 'Eteo-Cypriot' language(s) rendered by the 'common' Cypriot syllabary; the Phoenician 'alphabet' and language; the implementation of Attic Koine (and of the Milesian alphabet) during the fourth century BC; and of Latin (and the respective alphabet) from the first century BC onwards.

13 November: Religious painting in Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Cyprus,
by Dr CHARALAMPOS G. CHOTZAKOGLOU (University of Cyprus)

ABSTRACT: The geographical position of Cyprus, its relations with Egypt, the Middle East and Asia Minor, as well as the influence of Byzantine imperial policy on the island are major factors in the development of art in the Byzantine period. This is reflected especially on architecture and religious painting. Mosaic decorations of the earlier period, as well as frescoes and portable icons illustrate the close relation between Cypriot art and that of Constantinople, the political, economic and cultural centre of the Empire. In so far religious painting is concerned this close relation seems to have continued even after the Frankish conquest and the long centuries of Latin rule (1192-1489). The interaction between Byzantine and Gothic painting, and the influence of Renaissance art on Cypriot art during the Venetian rule that followed (1489-1570), is still evident in church decoration and architecture of that period. With the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus, in 1571, Cypriot painters adopted the Post-Byzantine style known as koine. A considerable number of frescoes and portable icons in this style are preserved.

20 November: Saint Neophytos the Recluse: Byzantine Hagiography in twelfth-century Cyprus, by Dr GEORGIOS CHRISTODOULOU (Archbishop Makarios III Foundation, Nicosia)

ABSTRACT: The Byzantine world was primarily a Christian world. Holy men and women played an important role in Byzantine society. The large number of hagiographical texts, comprising mainly Saints' Lives and Miracles preserved in thousands of manuscripts, is a testimony to the wide popularity these readings enjoyed in Byzantium. The lecture will focus on the Life of the Cypriot Saint Neophytos the Recluse (Enkleistos) (1134-1219). His Life and his surviving writings, some of which contain interesting autobiographical passages, give a vivid picture of the holy man and the society in which he operated. They are also an important source of information on historical events that marked the history of the island in this period.

27 November: Religion in Frankish Cyprus, by Professor CHRISTOPHER SCHABEL (University of Cyprus)

ABSTRACT: The religious history of Frankish Cyprus is usually viewed ahistorically. Religion is seen as a divisive factor, and we have a depressing picture of a Latin clergy that stripped the Greek clergy of its property, forced it into submission, abolished its independence and rights, refused to tolerate its beliefs and practices, attempted to Latinize it (and the population) and persecuted those who would not yield. Aside from some errors, this is a logical interpretation based on the ideals of democracy, freedom of religion, and the self-determination of peoples. From a medieval perspective, with very different ideals, the actions of the Latin and Greek clergies become more understandable, and taking Christianity as a unifying element, we see general peace and prosperity, punctuated by relatively few episodes of conflict.

4 December: Leonardo Donà: Memorie per le cose di Cipro. Apo tin Poli ton Tenagon sti Chersoneso tis Karpasias (in Greek), by Mrs NASA PATAPIOU (Embassy of Cyprus and 'House of Cyprus', Athens)

ABSTRACT: In 1556 the new Venetian Governor of Cyprus, Giovanni Battista Donà, arrived on the island, accompanied by his son Leonardo. An enlightened young man, Leonardo stayed in Cyprus for two years, travelling around the island and collecting material for a book on the history of Cyprus that he intended to write one day. His unpublished autograph manuscript, preserved in the Museo Civico Correr in Venice, Fondo Donà dalle Rose, codex 45, is an important source of information on the population of the island, their occupation, the salt-pans, the coast of Cyprus and its main harbours, including the Karpasia peninsula, as well as archaeological sites, fortresses and the light cavalry. Leonardo went on to have an illustrious career. He became Venetian bailo in Constantinople, representative of Venice in the Vatican, Ambassador to Spain and finally doge. The lecture will present Leonardo's experience and reflections on Cyprus.

11 December: Reflections on the Psychological Implications of Recent Political Events in Cyprus, by Dr CATIA GALATARIOTOU (British Institute of Psychoanalysis, London)

ABSTRACT: In the past fifty years the Cypriot people experienced a series of profoundly unsettling events and processes. The basic political, social and economic facts of the history of Cyprus from the mid-1950s onwards are well, if only partially, known. The purpose of this lecture is not to discuss these facts, but to reflect on the impact they have had on the psychological make-up of the people of Cyprus.


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