On June 28, 2023, the Embassy of Greece in London hosted the event "The Contribution of Greece, Hungary and Romania to the Shaping of European Literature" to celebrate the Greek city of Elefsina holding the tile of European Capital of Culture for 2023, along with Timisoara (Romania) and Veszprém (Hungary).
Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Oxford, Oliver Taplin, presented the lecture "Aeschylus and his influence in shaping European and world theatre", while passages from the works of the ancient tragedian were recited in Greek by the actress Angeliki Petropetsioti. Ioannis Tsaousis, Greece's Ambassador to the UK, also addressed the event and spoke about the "2023 Eleusis" program and its importance.
The bilingual edition "They Wrote for Her" by the "2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture" Organization, was also presented; it is a bilingual anthology dedicated to Elefsina, featuring texts by Greek and international authors, dating from Greek and Roman antiquity until the present day, and including texts byShakespeare, Goethe, Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, Camus, Seferis and Ritsos.
The event is part of a series of activities aimed to raise awareness in the UK about the work of "2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture. One of the aims of the event was to familiarize the public with the city of Elefsina as a natural harbor and as one of the largest industrial centers in Greece, through a photographic exhibition and flyers handed out.
The embassies of Romania and Hungary in London also presented short artistic programs for promotion of their respective cities The event was held as part of a plan of joint actions to promote the institution of the European Capital of Culture and, in particular, the cities of Elefsina, Timisoara and Veszprém that jointly hold the title for 2023.
Elefsina in History
Elefsina, one of the five most important sacred cities of Ancient Greece, and birthplace of Aeschylus, was transformed from the 19th century onwards into the productive engine of modern Greece and one of its largest industrial hubs.
In antiquity, Elefsina was known as Eleusis, and was famous for hosting the "Eleusinian Mysteries", yearly initiations for the cult of Demeter, the goddess of harvest, agriculture and fertility of the earth, and her daughter, Persephone, wife of Hades and queen of the underworld. The basis of this religious practice is believed to date from the Bronze Age; it was a major festival throughout the Classical and Hellenistic era, and later spread to Rome.The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, king of the Underworld, and her return to the surface of the earth each spring, symbolizing the cycle of the four seasons, but also the perpetual cycle of life.
When the modern state of Greece was established, Elefsina was a small settlement, which would develop into one of Greece’s most main industrial centres in the late 19th century. This resulted in environmental degradation, but a number of ongoing green initiatives have reversed this situation to a great extent.
Drawing inspiration from the rich history of the city, 2023 Eleusis forms an integrated artistic, research and educational program, with the general title Mysteries of Transition, which focuses on the three Axes: People – Society / Labour / Environment.
The MYSTERIES OF TRANSITION program runs throughout 2023 presenting a total of 465 productions in 30 different venues, and hosting more than 300 distinguished artists from all over the world. The General Artistic Director of the 2023 Eleusis organization is acclaimed Greek stage director Michail Marmarinos.
The three strategic projects of 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture, are Mystery_29 Elefsina – Raw Museum representing the theme "People – Society", Mystery_99 THE ARK – LANDSHIP, the largest pilgrimage procession in the 3,500-year history of the city as part of the theme "Environment" and Mystery_111 Eleusis Terracotta Army, an emblematic project dedicated to those who have worked or continue to work in Elefsina, as part of the theme "Labor".
Read also via Greek news Agenda: 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture: A City in Transition; Mystery_29 Elefsina – Raw Museum: The city of Elefsina as an exhibit; "Eleusis, the great mysteries" at the Acropolis Museum