Issue 17, February 2011
homepage > The Athens Dialogues 2010
The Athens Dialogues 2010
By Niki Tsironi,
PhD in Byzantine Studies, researcher at the Institute of Byzantine Studies, responsible
for the scientific coordination of the Athens Dialogues Conference

A few days ago the Athens Dialogues drew to a close, an international conference of Greek culture which was the opening event for the Onassis Cultural Centreof the Onassis Foundation. The end, of course, is a relative term when talking about a conference which began on the Internet long before we met at the Centre and which will continue through e-journals and through the use of the knowledge, experience and contacts that were acquired over this period. On reaching the end of the conference, the account of those who actively participated in its organization does not really refer to something that has ended but to an ongoing work with scope of active and dynamic dialogue via the Internet and post-conference meetings in the process of being arranged.

The Athens Dialogues took place successfully from 24th to 27th November 2010 at the Onassis Cultural Centre, inaugurating the new cultural space of the Onassis Foundation and justifying the time and money spent on this objective by the Foundation.

Top scientists, academics and intellectuals from all over the world gathered for these four days at the Centre in order to discuss both with each other and with the public who attended, whether Greek Culture can offer solutions to the issues that concern modern man at both a societal and personal level. More than 1,700 people watched the conference live and 11,000 individual users followed the conference activities via the Internet. At the same time, 55,000 visitors from 86 countries were recorded visiting the site of the Onassis Cultural Centrewhile the conference was transmitted live to around 50 universities, museums and cultural bodies in both Greece and overseas, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The University of Haifa, The Universities of Cyprus and Ioannina and the Ethnological Museum of Thrace – Angeliki Yiannakidou.

The opening ceremony was honoured by the presence of the Minister of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religion, Anna Diamantopoulou, who talked of the hope that the creation of such an educational institution becomes instilled. Considering an idealistic approach aimed at changing education necessary, Anna Diamantopoulou emphasized the importance of the conference as an attempt to redefine classic values such as democracy, and to deal with the social and economic crisis of our time. The president of the Onassis Foundation, Anthony Papadimitriou, referred to the vision of the search for identity through study of the classics, so as to lead mankind to a holistic understanding of culture and knowledge. Professor Georgios Babiniotis pointed out that the Athens Dialogues was not so much a conference as a step towards convening, collaboration and dialogue, across all sciences, bodies and countries, on the world interest in Greek thought, humanitarianism and the humanitarian word in relation to the modern day problems. Conference farewells were given by the President of the Institut de France, Gabriel Broglie, who talked about the importance of Greek cultural and scientific heritage and the necessity of following the Greek model so as determine a way of dealing with current and future problems.

Pictures from the opening ceremony.
Pictures from the opening ceremony.

Dialogues of the Elite
Dialogue, the common denominator of all the sessions of the conference, began with the screening of a discussion between the famous German director Peter Stein and Gregory Nagy, professor of Classic Greek Literature and Comparative Literature at the Centre of Hellenic Studies at Harvard University. The two speakers approached humanitarian issues and sought solutions offered by the timeless works of ancient tragedies, especially when accessed by the contemporary eye of such an acclaimed director. The two different approaches to the issue of the ancient tragedy – the director, Peter Stein and the man of letters, Gregory Nagy – sometimes converged and sometimes diverged, however always aimed at creating a fruitful dialogue. Their conversation, which was recorded in Austria where Stein staged Oedipus at Colonus at the Salzburg Festival, lasted for over two hours and is to be posted on the Forum of the website of the Dialogues.

“The past is never completely past”
Three eminent personalities of letters and the intellect, Eleni Glykatzi-Arveler, Dusan Sidjanski and Simon Critchley, discussed "Does the past have a future?", while Johannes Saltzwedel, Editorial Director of the magazine Der Spiegel, Sir Peter Stothard, Editorial Chief of the Times Literary Supplement and Nikos G. Xydakis, Editor-in-Chief of Kathimerini posed questions and thoughts about society today. Emphasizing the role of the past in the formulation of the present and the future, Eleni Glykatzi-Arveler stressed that the future is contained in the past and vice versa. Giving the example of the totalitarian ideologies that create a new man who denies tradition and the past, the speaker claimed that a healthy and democratic society should always take into consideration the continuity of the past, present and future. For his part, Dusan Sidjanski examined the issue of whether and in what way the European Union can, in this age of globalization and technological advancement, leverage significant lessons from Greek culture.  Subsequently, Simon Critchley, talking about the Athenian tragedy, stressed the importance of an open Europe, one tolerant of diversity, and he added that the future is based on an examination of the past and the recognition of democracy as a continuous battle through which ethical and political issues and complexities are dealt with:  a lesson offered by Greek culture.

The Heritage of the Owl
Twenty years ago, the Onassis Foundation commissioned Chris Marker who collaborated with the cultural television channel La Sept (forerunner of the French-German Arte) to create a series of episodes on the heritage of the Ancient Greek civilization in the modern world. The Heritage of the Owl as this series was named, referring to the Goddess Athena, was one of the most ambitious projects by Marker and was based around the idea of the thirteen Greek words shared by contemporary culture.  symposium, Olympics, democracy, nostalgia, amnesty, mathematics, altercation, music, cosmogony, mythology, misogyny, tragedy, philosophy. This precious material was donated by the Onassis Foundation to the French Film Archive in October 2009. At the beginning of each session of the Dialogues, selected excerpts from this series were screened, which had a direct relation to the same theme, acting to trigger dialogue.

Identity and Difference
The thematic session “Identity and Difference”, with chair Dame Averil Cameron, historian of Late Antiquity and Byzantium at the University of Oxford, examined the dialogue between cultures both past and present. Martyn Barret talked about national and ethnic identities in modern times, approaching the issue from a psychological perspective. Alan Shapiro’s contribution focused on the Athenian identity and the Persian ‘other’ from Croesus to Xerxes, while the talk by Joseph Bryant was entitled “The Schism as the metamorphosis of identity in Early Christianity: Sociological observations at a crucial intra-religious rupture.” Walter Pohl examined the role of ethnicity in the post-Roman West, Byzantium and the Early Islamic World, talking about the defining role that Greek thought played in the formation of these three civilizations. Paulo Odorico spoke about the Greeks of the Middle Ages compared to other Europeans, examining the distinction between difference and diversity, while the distinguished Greek sociologist Konstantinos Tsoukalas talked about identity and difference as fabricated concepts that serve the globalized society. The contribution of Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, professor at the University of Oxford for 35 years, entitled “Identity and difference in the spiritual life:  Quietists, Yogi and Soufi", focused on the opposition, but mainly on the dialogue that arises between religions and their traditions. The speech by Shireen Hunter entitled “Greece, the Ancient and Medieval World and contemporary Europe: an early example of the dialogue of cultures" presents a sample dialogue starting from the world beyond Greece. Finally, Katerina Stenou, Director of the Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue of UNESCO, with headquarters in Paris, talked about the ideological and political challenges in establishing identity and difference, especially in the present age, where intercultural dialogue is an issue of such paramount importance.

Overall, the speakers raised questions concerning the formation of identity in Ancient Greece and the Byzantium and addressed difference at a temporal level, with the aim of answering cultural identity issues that preoccupy the world in the 21st century. The chair of this thematic session, Dame Averil Cameron, highlighted the ease with which society attaches and continues to attach labels such as Greek, barbarian, religious believer and atheist, which was questioned and discussed at length by the participants in this session, “Identity and Difference”. Participants such as Nikos Bakounakis, Mark Janse and Katerina Zacharia in turn raised issues related to cultural dialogues especially in the modern era. Nikos Bakounakis spoke about the shaping of the concepts of ‘identity’ and ‘difference’ in today’s society, and of the aims that such a distinction serves, drawing examples not only from history, but from the Germany and France of today.

Top: Prof. Dimitri Nanopoulos<br />
Centre: The keynote speakers panel - Dusan Sidjanski, Hélène Glykatzi-Ahrweiler and Simon Critchley<br />
Bottom: Niki Tsironis
Top: Prof. Dimitri Nanopoulos
Centre: The keynote speakers panel - Dusan Sidjanski, Hélène Glykatzi-Ahrweiler and Simon Critchley
Bottom: Niki Tsironis

Stories and Histories
In the thematic session Stories and Histories, the speakers, with chairs Hans-Joachim Gehrke, President of the German Archaeological Institute, and Johannes Koder, Director of the Institute of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Vienna, examined the role of narrative in shaping history.  Professor Gehrke introduced the session Stories and Histories, and talked about the importance of the past and its study in or to understand today's world. “Historiography is not the only way through which one can turn to the past. Oral tradition, poetry and creation should also be included. In this way we can understand how the Ancient Greeks created their past. All stories require attention not only for what they are, but also for why they have influenced and formed the image we have about the past”, said Hans-Joachim Gehrke talking about the formation of specific views such as the bipolar configuration ‘East-West’. Finally, before giving the floor to the speakers for the beginning of the dialogue, Professor Gehrke noted that these stories are of vital importance to western thought.

Richard Hunter spoke about the importance of studying the introduction of texts such as the Iliad, to distinguish between History and stories, while the talk by Richard Buxton was entitled “Life and death of the Greek Gods, heroes and historical figures.” The very interesting speech by Richard Meineck focused on the role of masks in ancient tragedy, approaching it from the perspective of neuroscience. Himashu Prabha Ray, who examined the influence of Greek culture on India after Alexander the Great, provoked not only positive feedback but also pertinent questions from the other speakers and the public alike. Vasilis Labrinoudakis talked about the way in which Greek heritage is interpreted by archaeologists, and the resulting shaping and reforming of history according to each interpretation, something which poses serious risks. He also examined the role and the utilization of cultural monuments in the modern era. The contribution by Damien Sutton was entitled “The platonic photographer:  the role of the political portrait photographer and his work as a writer”, while Johannes Koder focused on the relationship of Europe and Asia during antiquity. Edhem Eldem talked about the stories which affect the formation of history, using the basic example of the myth and actual life of Ibrahim Edhem Pasha, whose origins, it has been speculated, were Greek.  Finally, Roderick Beaton talked about the Greek ideal in the poetry of Byron and Shelley. The thematic session Stories and Histories concluded with the speakers exchanging thoughts and questions and also with audience participation through the Academic Secretariat.

Let it be noted here the contribution of Dimitris Papanikolaou and Sir Peter Stothard, who extensively commented on the discussions presented by the professors Ray, Burton and Sutton and also that of Hyun Jin Kim, who spoke on the importance of the recognition of Hellenic civilization in understanding the modern world. Finally, the journalist Takis Kambylis, continuing on from by the talks from the professors Roderick Beaton and Edhem Eldem argued that history is mainly formed from stories.

Logos and Art
The thematic session Logos and Art, with chairs Gregory Nagy, professor of the Centre of Hellenic Studies at Harvard University, and Richard Martin, professor of Classical Studies at Stanford University, attempted to search for the elements that make Greek heritage diachronic.  Before beginning the dialogue, professor Nagy highlighted the importance of the e-journal through which the dialogue would continue, hoping to provide a forum for the younger generations. Moreover, this interest in the new generation and its participation in this specific thematic session was also clear from the choice of speakers.
The speakers examined artistic expression throughout the centuries and the relationship between classic literature and the visual arts. The speech by Richard Martin entitled “Apollo's guitar and Poseidon’s test: ritual and competition in the development of Greek aesthetic” was the fruit of his collaboration with his friend, professor Gregory Nagy. The resulting work was impressive at all levels. Anton Bierl’s speech entitled “Sappho in Athens:  a reference to the new papyrus of the University of Cologne: age and renewal through chorality” gave a new dimension to the poetry of Sappho and talked of the two different contexts within which the work of the poet can be examined:  the Symposium and the Panathenaic. The talks by David Konstan and Edith Hall were entitled respectively "From the remorse in regret:  tragic emotions over the centuries" and “The ancient Greek tragedy and international theatre: the case of Iphigenia in Tauris.” Platon Mavromoustakos examined the ideological parameters that influenced the perception of ancient tragedies at the end of the 20th century and raised the question as to whether the ancient drama maintains a sacredness or form of ritual which operates to unify multicultural groups.3 The talk by the art historian Leslie Brubaker, who works at the University of Birmingham, had the title “Observing and listening to Byzantium”. Margaret Mullet talked about Byzantine art with emphasis on three texts that reflect all social classes of Byzantium: Pratum Spirituale by John Moschus, The Oneirocriticon by Achmet and the satire Timarion by an anonymous author. Marina Lambraki-Plaka dealt with the issue of the social context of art, while the talk by François-Bernard Mâche developed the topic: “What is an artist?” Finally, Christian Jacob, whose talk entitled "The librarian, the king and the poets" was based on the text by Vitrouvios, discussed extensively the impact of the story of Vitrouvios on the survival of texts from generation to generation and their impact on science and art.       

The speakers, including Nikos Xydakis and David Elmer, raised issues and commented on the distinction between the so called ‘quality’ art and pop culture, while the question was also raised as to whether it was feasible and beneficial to change the way of teaching the classics with the help of technology.

Democracy and Politeia
The thematic session Democracy and Politeia was chaired by the Emeritus Professor of Modern Greek History at the University of Athens and also the president of the Academy of Athens, Konstantinos Svolopoulos, and Emeritus professor of Political Science at the University of Athens, Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas. Josiah Ober talked about the three kinds of dignity, while John Dunn's speech was entitled "Political equality: Equality in power? Equality in justice? Equality in the public eye? Equality in reason? The promotion of an equality between the equal and unequal.”  A very interesting speech by Sara Monoson focused on the image of Socrates through the American mass media from 1941 to 1956. Due to the political instability of that period, many artists gave different interpretations of the image of Socrates transforming him into the symbol of democracy and giving another perspective to this Greek legacy. Ryan Balot talked about the ascent of the democratic city, while Jean-Louis Ferrary, member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres of the Institute of France and fellow of the Onassis Foundation for the current academic year, focused on Ancient Democracies. The distinguished and enterprising Angelos Chanitotis, professor of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (USA), talked about the illusion of democracy in the Hellenistic world, examining the factors that undermined the concept of democracy and transposing the example to the present world, with particular emphasis on the role of the mass media. The talk by Ljubomir Maksimovis entitled “Democracy in an Imperial system of governance: the case of Byzantium”, focused on a different dimension of the notion of ‘democracy’ in the Byzantine Empire. Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas, apart from acting as chair of the session, enriched its content with his talk on classicality in an age of instrumentalization of art. The talk by Pierre Delvolvé bore the title “Democracy under the test of crisis”. Claudia Rapp, professor of History of Late Antiquity and Byzantium at UCLA, made a comparison between the autonomous Greek city states of the antiquity and the form which they acquired in early Byzantium with the view to adapting to the Christian world.        

The topics under discussion did not just focus on the perceptions of the ancient world regarding the concepts of Democracy and Civilization, but also their relationship to the present era. Byzantinologist Mary Cunningham, talking outside of her research field, creatively contributed to the discussion as a co-speaker in the session alongside Matthias Haake and Matthew Simonton who both raised valid questions. Stathis Kalyvas, professor of Political Science at Yale University (USA), focused on the repercussions of the crisis on democratic institutions, while Angelos Chaniotis posed the question as to whether the democratic institutions of the present day should not be taken seriously as in practice they do not meet their basic duties.33333 Among other things, the dialogue discussed the role of Greece and France in the exercise and protection of human rights and terrorism, because these two countries have a long history and tradition of decisive importance in these sectors, while also dealing with the issue of whether these two countries should feel more responsible for the preservation of democracy in our age.

Athanassios Fokas
Athanassios Fokas

Science and Ethics
The thematic session Science and Ethics examined the issue posed by the virtue of science and technology, which provide solutions and improve the quality of life of people today but also create new ethical dilemmas. This thematic session was chaired by the distinguished professor Athanasios Fokas, owner of the Centre for Nonlinear Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, who had the idea for this session and also the responsibility for the choice of speakers, and Jacques Jouanna, member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres of the Institute of France. Sir Michael Francis Attiyah and Siddharthan Chandran presented the respective talks “The spirit of mathematics” and “Regenerative medicine: fears and expectations." John Barrow posed the question as to whether the world should be considered simple or complex, based on the theories of Plato and Aristotle, with the aim not only of understanding the world but of also examining the history of scientific thought. 

Following that, Erling Norrby, professor of Virology at the Centre of History and Science of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, talked about the evolution of life and answered the question as to whether science can be reconciled with religion in the 21st century, a question posed by the public who were attending the conference live. Question were also addressed to, amongst others, Baroness Susan Greenfield, professor of Physiology and emeritus researcher at the University of Oxford, who was asked to determine whether the Platonic and Aristotelian theory of the world could provide answers to the knowledge and functioning of the brain – a basic problematic issue targeted from the outset by this thematic session.  Susan Greenfield examined the case of whether the fundamental ideas of ancient Greek culture could be applied to modern neurology. The chair of this thematic unit, Jacques Jouanna, focused on the Hippocratic Oath and its importance in teaching and in medical ethics in the past and present, while the talk by professor Theodosios Tasios, which raised many questions and comments, bore the title “Ethical issues and technology: possible lessons from Ancient Greece." Anne Fagot-Largeault talked about scientific integrity, while subsequently Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamon examined the role of science in the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom on an ethical level. During the session and at the end of the session, the speakers Giorgos Papageorgiou, Said Esteban Belmehdi, Konstantinos Moutousis, Anna Marmodoro and Felix Hasler, expressed their thoughts on the issues and questions raised by the talks.

Dame Averil Cameron
Dame Averil Cameron

Quality of Life
The last thematic session of the Athens Dialogues conference examined the diachronic concept of Greek heritage that has fed scientific understanding of the quality of life in the past, present and future. Chairing the session was Robert Harris, president of the Houston Advanced Research Centre (HARC) and Dimitris Nanopoulos, member of the Academy of Athens and professor of High Energy Physics at Texas A&M University.

Robert Harriss gave particular emphasis to the dialogue when he referred to the fact that even though the world today is facing a number of challenges, we all need to remember that we are not the first generation to find itself in such a position, and also to remember that dialogue can highlight proposals and find solutions. Sander Van Der Leeuw, in his paper approached the archaeology of innovation, while Walter Scheidel focused on his interest in the case of Greece as regards human evolution and quality of life over time. The talk by Branco Milanovic bore the title “Ancient inequality”, while Nikos Saligaros approached the topic “Life and geometry of the environment”. The Dean and professor of Management Science and Finance at the University of Cyprus, Stavros Zenios, talked about quality of life in relation to economic development and posed the question of whether freedom leads to happiness, referring to the economic situation of the modern era. Also the talk by Michael Mehaffy entitled “Quality of Life through design: the science of a structural and functional revolution” raised interest from participants and the audience. The professor of Choreography and New Media, Sarah Rubidge, who talked about the importance of art, argued the various ways in which art influences not just its audience but also artists, both physically and intellectually, resulting in a further contribution of art to quality of life. Aristides Patrinos argues that Synthetic Genomics can provide solutions to the global problems of the 21st century despite the moral dilemmas that can arise from the misuse of new scientific information. Finally, the chair of the session, and according to general opinion the intriguing speaker, Dimitris Nanopoulos, spoke about the quantum myth of Sisyphus in relation to chance and sustainability, examining the issue of the origin of the universe.

The thematic session Quality of Life ended with dialogue between the audience and the speakers, just as in the other sessions of the conference. In particular Andreas Mershin stressed that the importance of scientific development lies in the fact that the concept of race dies out and along with it so does racial discrimination; as a result, man comprehends that diversity exists alongside equality. The participants Panagiotis Doukellis, Emilia Papafilippou and Katia Savrami expressed their opinion on the issues being discussed. The visual artist and former Fellow of the Onassis Foundation, Emilia Papafilippou commented on the talk by Michael Mehaffy, replying with her own presentation entitled “Being the Game and the Game’s Game – Defining Reason”, while the chorologist, Katia Savrami, stressed that there should be a greater balance between art and science regarding their support by modern societies.

Interdisciplinary Dialogue
The Athens Dialogues reached a close with an assessment and evaluation of its scope by the participants, chaired by Anthony Papadimitriou and Georgios Babiniotis.  The dialogue was held by Simon Critchley and all the chairs of the thematic sessions, while also taking the floor were the key speakers and participants of the conference, the members of the Organizing Committee, and everyone following the conference live either from the conference room itself or virtually via the Internet. As emphasized by professor Georgios Babiniotis, the aim of the dialogue was to help modern man using Greek thought – in times of turmoil – to cope with the challenges faced. During this synthetic evaluation, the elements that prevailed were pluralism, exchange of opinion and the constant search for answers from all participants. This “dialogue of substance” – as characterized by Georgios Babiniotis – which took place in the Onassis Cultural Centre, ended with an interdisciplinary discussion which is intended to continue via the Internet until the next Athens Dialogues conference. 

Top: (from the left) Marianna Moschou, the Metropolitan of Pergamon John [Zizioulas], Anthony Papadimitriou, Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas, George Babiniotis and Dimitri Nanopoulos<br />
Centre: Konstantinos Svolopoulos and Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas<br />
Bottom (from the left): John Ioannides, Athanassios Fokas, Anna Diamantopoulou, Anthony Papadimitriou, Dimitri Nanopoulos and Marianna Moschou
Top: (from the left) Marianna Moschou, the Metropolitan of Pergamon John [Zizioulas], Anthony Papadimitriou, Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas, George Babiniotis and Dimitri Nanopoulos
Centre: Konstantinos Svolopoulos and Anastasios-Ioannis Metaxas
Bottom (from the left): John Ioannides, Athanassios Fokas, Anna Diamantopoulou, Anthony Papadimitriou, Dimitri Nanopoulos and Marianna Moschou

Where does the success of the conference lie?
The Athens Dialogues, the personal vision of the President of the Onassis Foundation, Anthony Papadimitriou, exceeded the expectations of the organizers and as he personally announced in his concluding speech, will be repeated in the future. Anthony Papadimitriou stated “the conference was successful because it was not just focused on the past, but also the present and the future. That was the objective of the Athens Dialogues 2010 and that will also be the objective of the next Dialogues which will take place three or four years from now; it has been said many times that the Athens Dialogues are like the Olympic Games of the intellect." The next Dialogues will have the general theme “Greek thought in open dialogue with other cultures”, announced Anthony Papadimitriou and Georgios Babiniotis. “The conference succeeded because it managed to creatively use the Internet not as a source of information, but as a network of scientists involved in Greek culture. The dynamic of technology has literally enabled thousands of people around the world to attend and actively participate in the conference. Another reason that we consider the Dialogues a success is that it managed to actively involve all generations in creative dialogue.”

The success of the Athens Dialogues conference is not judged so much by the great turnout at the Onassis Cultural Centreand the unexpected increase in the number of visits to the website which transmitted the conference live on the Internet. The great success of the conference is judged by the fact that for the first time a conference dealt with the role of Greek culture, and its place in modern societies, through a diachronic and interdisciplinary approach that was able to attract and invite dialogue from individuals who do not necessarily belong to academic circles and also attempted to continue this dialogue outside of the conference hall where the four-day event took place. For this reason, the Centre of Hellenic Studies at the University of Harvard, which administered the questions and comments to the Onassis Cultural Centrein collaboration with the Academic Secretariat – which was staffed by the present author, professor Giannis Petropoulos and Dr.Ioanna Papadopoulou with the help of Dr.Victoria Tsoukala, Dimitris Ioannidis, Rebecca White and a staff of competent executives from the Onassis Foundation and the Onassis Cultural Centre– have now begun a new project which involves managing the questions and comments that have already started to appear on the Forum of the Athens Dialogues website ( It should be noted here that the contribution of professor Kenny Morrell of Harvard University and his team of students, as well as of the winners of the youth competition organized through the network EUNIC was decisive in the work of the Academic Secretariat.

Access to the internet forum is granted to all parties who are interested in putting forward their opinion; there will also be an opportunity to discuss, amongst other things, the theoretical and practical issues facing society today, with the aim not only of acquiring knowledge as an end in itself but also using it to address contemporary issues. The work of the conference will remain on the website, in form of written texts as well as audiovisual material. This material will be actively used in round table discussions organized in Greece and abroad, after editing. Extracts from each thematic session will be presented at universities in Oxford, London, Moscow, Alexandria, New York and other parts of the world with the aim of continuing the dialogue which began at the Onassis Cultural Centre.

The conference participants and those who attended the conference on the Internet all submitted their questions either in written or electronic form, adding a different dimension to the issues preoccupying the speakers. In order to effectively manage the submitted questions from all corners of the globe, the Academic Secretariat of the conference chose and compiled the questions which would advance the dialogue, at its discretion. Those questions not answered due to time restrictions will be posted on the conference Forum, where they will not only be answered but hopefully will stimulate the second phase of dialogue.

By row, from left to right : Robert Harriss, Paolo Odorico, Peter Meineck – Himanshu Prabha Ray, Gregory Nagy, Ljubomir Maksimovic – Angelos Chaniotis, Claudia Rapp, Stathis Kalyvas – Josiah Ober, Susan Greenfield, Aristides Patrinos
By row, from left to right : Robert Harriss, Paolo Odorico, Peter Meineck – Himanshu Prabha Ray, Gregory Nagy, Ljubomir Maksimovic – Angelos Chaniotis, Claudia Rapp, Stathis Kalyvas – Josiah Ober, Susan Greenfield, Aristides Patrinos

Constantine P. Kavafy: In the Vast Panhellenic World
Leaving the Onassis Cultural Centre, those participating in the Athens Dialogues departed with a legacy: an elegant edition of selected poems by the Alexandrian poet Constantine Kavafy, a small gift from the Onassis Foundation. Responsible for this choice was the present author in collaboration with Babis Leggas, who proofed and edited this special edition.

The poems presented to the audience at the Dialogues were directly related to the problems raised by the conference. “Mega Panellinion (Grand National) indicates the intellectual fibre of Greek thought, from its birth until the present day, within and beyond geographical locations and historical circumstances. […] The legacy of the Greek spirit is not without a homeland, but neither does it belong by right to the contemporary residents of the places where it flourished. In our view, this treasure, born and bred of cosmopolitanism (and therefore globalisation) belongs to the whole world of today”, says the President of the Onassis foundation, Anthony Papadimitriou, in his prologue to this special edition. Mega Panellinion (Grand National) is prefaced by Giannis Dallas and contains a translation of all of the poems into English by Evangelos Sachperoglou.

- top of page -
Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation | Tel. +30 210 3713000 | Fax. +30 210 3713013 | Email: