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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 February 2016
NEWS 6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Odysseus’ next stop: The Melbourne Homer Festival aims to prove that the father of all Western literature is as relevant as ever in today’s culture NIKOS FOTAKIS Three thousand years after his time, Homer is coming to Melbourne to become the epicentre of a new literary event. Launched by the independent culture organisation Humanities 21, the Melbourne Homer Festival aspires to breath new life into a timeless body of work. Homer himself is one of the most disputed personalities in history, with the time and place of his birth being the subject of debate for centuries, while many doubt that he existed at all, but no one challenges the role of his oeuvre - epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey - as the Odysseus being led to his estate by the unsuspecting Eumaeus and loyal dog Argos, after he arrives in Ithaka disguised as a beggar. foundations of Western literature. It is with this in mind that the festival's organisers decided to celebrate Homer's role in literature; after all, Melbourne is not only Australia's first and only City of Literature (since joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2008) but also a city of extraordinary Hellenic heritage. The festival, which will take place in November 2016, bringing together performers, musicians, writers and scholars to celebrate and interpret Homer to a broad audience, will address both features of the city. "The festival will place the celebration and constant reexamination and re-evaluation of the Homeric tradition and Homeric themes centrally in the cultural life of Melbourne," says Jeff Richardson, who is a member of the organising committee. "Without us realising, Homeric themes, tropes and ideas saturate our literature," he says, explaining the point that the festival will try to make. As for the timing, "there's never been a better time", he says. "We live in a time of great challenge and change, just as the Greeks transitioning from the Bronze Age did. Not only is war and the threat of war with us, Australia in particular is a society of people who have made great and perilous journeys. As we strive to interpret these things artistically, we can have no better guide than Homer". Academics K.O. Chong-Gossard and Jane Montgomery Griffiths reciting Homer at the launch of the Melbourne Homer Festival. A CELEBRATION OF MELBOURNE AS A GREEK CITY OF LITERATURE The idea of the festival was born in a meeting between two prominent Melbourne classicists: Helen Madden, who has established a strong contemporary tradition of staging ancient Greek drama through her work with the Stork Theatre, and Dr Peter Acton, former vice-president of The Boston Consulting Group and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Dr Acton is the president of Humanities 21, a not-for-profit, advocacy organisation championing the benefits the humanities can bring to contemporary life. His book Poiesis is a reexamination of manufacturing in fifth century Athens, and its launch was the spark that initiated a festival to celebrate the depth of Melbourne's literary heritage, and at the same time, its special character as a Greek city in the Antipodes. Although it is too early for announcements, one of the The duel of Achilles and Hector is central in Homer’s The Iliad. Dying Achilles, a 1884 sculpture by Ernest Herter, displayed at the Achilleion Palace, Corfu, Greece.
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