Among the first things one notices when approaching the Gennadius Library is the large inscription on the architrave of the neoclassical building, built by the American School of Classical Studies (ASCSA or the School hereafter) in 1926 to house the personal library of John Gennadius. It reads: ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΚΑΛΟΥΝΤΑΙ ΟΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΕΩΣ ΤΗΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΑΣ ΜΕΤΕΧΟΝΤΕΣ, that is, GREEKS THEY ARE CALLED THOSE WHO SHARE IN OUR EDUCATION. It is a line taken from Isocrates, Panegyricus 50.

The Gennadius Library. Postcard printed in the 1990s.

In the School’s Archives there is extensive correspondence between the Chair, Edward Capps, and the Secretary of the Managing Committee, Edward D. Perry, concerning this choice of passage. Both men were distinguished classicists: Capps (1866-1950)­ was a professor of Classics at Princeton and one of the three original editors of the Loeb Classical Library, and Perry (1854-1938) taught Greek and Sanskrit at Columbia University for several decades.

The original guidelines from the architects of the building, John Van Pelt and W. Stuart Thompson, limited the length of the inscription to twenty letters; in addition, the architects insisted on placing two rosettes to the left and right of the inscription.

The discussions about the inscription began in late 1922, as soon as the School had secured funding from the Carnegie Corporation for the construction of the library. “The book plate of [John] Gennadius contains: ΚΤΑΣΘΕ ΒΙΒΛΙΑ ΨΥΧΗΣ ΦΑΡΜΑΚΑ [buy these books, which are the medicine of the soul]. I think you could get up something better for the frieze over the entrance” Capps teased Perry on October 29, 1922. [1]. To which Perry answered: “I have been thinking over the matter a good deal, but so far have hit upon nothing that pleases me. As he [John Van Pelt] says ‘an inscription some twenty letters long’ I feel a good deal crammed. I will send him, as a mere suggestion to work with, the following, taken with slight changes from Aeschylus’s Prometheus, line 460: ΣΥΝΘΕΣΕΙΣ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΩΝ ΜΝΗΜΗ ΑΠΑΝΤΩΝ [“the combinations of letters, memory of all things”] which is thirty letters long” (AdmRec 311/3, folder 5, November 3, 1922).  

The bookplate from the library of John and Florence Gennadius. The motto on their bookplates comes from John Chrysostom’s ninth homily on the Epistle to the Colossians.

In early January of 1923 Perry offered four more options, for the School had solicited the opinion of other classical philologists on the matter of the inscription (AdmRec 311/3, folder 5, January 1, 1923). Paul E. More (1864-1937), a classicist but more famous as a literary editor and a proponent of the New Humanism, proposed a line that he thought was inscribed on the Library of Alexandria: “ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ ΙΑΤΡΟΣ ΨΥΧΗΣ [“literature is a healer of the soul”].” It puzzled both Capps and Perry, however, because they did not know its origin. “Do you know what writer gives this?” Capps asked Perry, who answered “I don’t know where [it] comes from… nor does [Larue] Van Hook.” One more reason not to use this line was that it was already (and is still) used by the American Philological Association (now Society for Classical Studies) as: ΨΥΧΗΣ ΙΑΤΡΟΣ ΤΑ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ.  

More also suggested a line from Plato (Republic 549b): ΛΟΓΟΣ ΜΟΥΣΙΚΗΙ ΚΕΚΡΑΜΕΝΟΣ [“argument mixed with music”]. Perry had suggested an English version of the same line as a motto for the new building of the American Academy of Arts and Letters on Audubon Terrace in Upper Manhattan. (Perry’s suggestion was not adopted since the inscription on the Academy building reads: HOLD HIGH THE FLAMING TORCH FROM AGE TO AGE.)

The inscription on the epistyle of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Perry rejected More’s suggestion to use the line from Plato’s Republic because it referred to music: “I should hesitate to use this, on account of the connotation which ΜΟΥΣΙΚΗ inevitably brings up nowadays –though perhaps this is a poor reason.” He preferred More’s other suggestion ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ ΙΑΤΡΟΣ ΨΥΧΗΣ, which Capps discovered “was on the Library at Thebes and ran ΙΑΤΡΕΙΟΝ ΨΥΧΗΣ, according to Diodorus,” but there were objections because “it suggested too strongly the diseased souls” (Adm Rec Box 311/3, folder 6, February 5, 1923).

The other philologist that the School consulted was Paul Shorey (1857-1934), Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago and before that at Bryn Mawr College, who purportedly knew all 15,693 lines of the Iliad by heart. It was Shorey, who came up with the line from Isocrates’s Panygericus 50: “ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΚΑΛΕΙΣΘΑΙ ΤΟΥΣ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΕΩΣ ΤΗΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΑΣ… ΜΕΤΕΧΟΝΤΑΣ,” which he modified to: “ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΚΑΛΟΥΝΤΑΙ ΟΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΕΩΣ ΤΗΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΑΣ ΜΕΤΕΧΟΝΤΕΣ.” Capps liked Shorey’s suggestion, but there was a problem with the Isocratic line: it was too long (AdmRec Box 311/3, folder 6, Capps to Perry, January 20, 1924). In order to shorten it Capps and Perry suggested several alterations admitting that: “If Isocrates turned in his grave we couldn’t hear him” (January 23, 1923).  By December of 1923 the inscription had been condensed to: ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΟΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΕΩΣ ΗΜΩΝ ΜΕΤΕΧΟΝΤΕΣ.”

Having settled on the Isocratic line, the issue of the Gennadeion inscription went dormant for more than a year, until the building was far advanced. After a meeting with Van Pelt, a concerned Perry wrote to Capps: “He [Van Pelt] had with him a drawing of the inscription (including the word άπαντες), in letters of the later type. His objection to the earlier type of lettering was that the oblique upper and lower lines of the Sigma did not harmonize with the severe horizontal lines of the architrave as well as the later type. Although like you I personally prefer the earlier letters I think there is some point to his argument” ( AdmRec Box 311/3, folder 6, September 22, 1924).

By now the inscription was slightly longer and read: ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΑΠΑΝΤΕΣ ΟΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΙΔΕΥΣΕΩΣ ΗΜΩΝ ΜΕΤΕΧΟΝΤΕΣ, since Capps had added the adjective ΑΠΑΝΤΕΣ (all) after ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ, “… to raise the phrase to the level of a great idea of Hellenism.” Perry suggested replacing ΑΠΑΝΤΕΣ with ΠΑΝΤΕΣ, just to cut one letter, but Capps objected to the use of ΠΑΝΤΕΣ because “it is not Isocrates.” Unhappy with their suggestions, they went back to Shorey’s original suggestion which was long (52 letters) but “more effective” and closer to the original Isocratic line. “Van Pelt thought it could be managed,” as he did, finding room for both the inscription and the rosettes on the Library’s architrave.

A close-up of the inscription on the architrave of the Gennadius Library

It is interesting, however, that Capps was approving the carving of an inscription that promoted “the great idea of Hellenism” just as the Greeks were forced to abandon their own “Great Idea” after the bitter loss of 1922. Of course, Capps’s Hellenism was addressing a different (Western) audience.

The Gennadius Library is the last public neoclassical building built in Athens. By the early 1920s Greek architects had abandoned that style and were experimenting with modernism as one can see on the many buildings in Athens between the two Wars. The poet Kostas Varnalis (1884-1974), who lived in the neighborhood and walked by the Library every day, found the building “άτονο και ανέκφραστο” (dull and expressionless) and said that the Neo-classical style wilted and died out in the Gennadeion (“σ’ αυτό ξεψύχησε ο νεοκλασσικός ρυθμός πεθαίνοντας από μαρασμό”). Would Varnalis turn over in his grave if he knew that his personal papers are housed in the East Wing of the Gennadius Library where the ASCSA Archives have been located since 2018? If he does, we can’t hear him!


  1. The Varnalis essay, titled “Το κυπαρίσσι,” was first published on August 3, 1944, and was republished by Nikos Sarantakos in Αττικά, 400 χρονογραφήματα του Κώστα Βάρναλη (1939-1958), Athens 2016.

2. An earlier version of my essay on the Gennadeion inscription appeared in The New Griffon 7, 2004, pp. 29-30.

The Transatlantic Voyage of a Greek Maiden

On March 31, 1947, Gisela Richter, Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, sent a confidential letter to Carl W. Blegen, Professor of Classics at the University of Cincinnati and a distinguished archaeologist. Richter approached Blegen not only because they were friends but because, by having lived in Greece for many years, Blegen had formed strong connections with the local community at all levels. In addition, during World War II, Blegen had offered his services to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and, upon his return to Greece, he had served as Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy (1945-1946). Richter was writing Blegen about five pieces of Greek sculpture on loan to the Metropolitan Museum, including Kore 675 from the Acropolis. Richter refers to her as the “Maiden”.

The Maiden (Kore 675) from the Athenian Acropolis depicted on a Greek stamp of 1974.

“As I think I told you, we are naturally anxious to return to the Greeks what they have kindly lent us but very much hope that some arrangement can be made by which we may retain that one Maiden. The other pieces we are not even going to ask for, as there are obvious reasons in each case why the Greeks would not want to part with them, and asking for them would only weaken our case for the Maiden. The latter is one of many, and would hardly be missed in Athens, whereas here she would act as an ambassadress of goodwill, etc., etc.”

Richter sought Blegen’s advice about how to proceed with the request. “The loan to Greece ought to create goodwill for America, but naturally we don’t want to seem to cash in on it.” Richter was referring to President Truman’s announcement of March 1947, known as the Truman Doctrine, whereby the U.S. government granted $300 million in military and economic aid to Greece and $100 million to Turkey. “Would it be better to ask for the piece as a gift and perhaps compensate for it in some other way, or would a direct purchase be better? You who have been in Greece recently and know Greek politics will be able to advise us better than anyone else,” concluded Richter.

Blegen’s response exists only as a draft in his personal papers at the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies (ASCSA or School hereafter). The mention of [Spyros] Skouras’s name in his response (not mentioned in Richter’s letter) suggests that Richter might have followed up with a second letter or a telegram or a note to Blegen’s wife, Elizabeth. To Richter’s disappointment, Blegen could not think “of any altogether satisfactory way of approach to recommend” (ASCSA Archives, Carl W. Blegen Papers, Box 13, folder 1, April 6, 1947). However, he did not reject the idea of having Spyros Skouras, the Greek-American movie mogul, mediate with the Greek authorities “since he has much influence and could apply some pressure. If he could propose it in the right quarters as an idea of his own, not inspired by you, there might be some hope that he could persuade them to make the offer as a spontaneous gesture of friendship.” Blegen thought of another alternative as well: “to ask Bert [Hodge] Hill to try his powers of persuasion.” Hill, Director of the American School from 1906 until 1926, was still considered to be social capital by many at the School. A gifted individual with access to the upper echelons of a small Athenian society, including the royal family, Hill “had his way with men” and could influence politicians. Blegen thought that it would have to be a political decision since the Archaeological Service would likely oppose to it.

There is no other correspondence between Blegen and Richter on this matter. We know that the Acropolis Maiden and the other pieces of sculpture were returned to Greece, so one assumes that either Richter did not press the issue further or that the mediators were unsuccessful. However, it is interesting to read an announcement in the Greek newspaper ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ on August 11, 1948, titled “The Greek State will Sell Certain Antiquities. Superfluous in Museums,” which implies that the Ministry of Education might have considered briefly the idea of selling duplicate antiquities, in order to finance the reopening of Greek museums and the beautification of those archaeological sites that had suffered much during the War.

Eight Years Earlier

With these two letters in hand, I began to work my way backward in order to find out why and when these five sculptures had been lent to the Metropolitan Museum. A search in the annual reports of the curators in the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum Art (BMMA) proved rewarding. In the BMMA of 1939, Richter contributed a section titled “A Loan of Greek Sculptures from Athens” (pp. 239-240). In it, we learn that the five originals had been sent for the Greek Pavilion on the occasion of the World’s Fair in New York and, while in New York, they were also on display in the Met’s galleries. The loan had been negotiated with Spyridon Marinatos (1901-1974), General Director of Antiquities in Greece, and Nicholas L. Lely, the Greek Consul General in New York. Richter proudly reported that “they are the first loans from Greece to cross the Atlantic –in fact, never before has Greece lent a single example of the great treasures in her museums to any country.”

Gisela Maria Richter, 1940s. Source: Richter 1972.

And which were the five pieces that the Greek Government had sent to the World Fair? The Maiden from the Acropolis Museum (no. 675), a work of the late 6th century B.C. that had been discovered in the excavations on the Acropolis in the late 19th century; the gravestone of Ampharette, a work of the late 5th century B.C., found in the Kerameikos; the head of “Ariadne” of the 4th century B.C., found in the Athenian Asklepieion; a little bronze head from Perinthos in Thrace that the National Museum had recently acquired (1935); and finally, the marble head of a Titan by the famous sculptor Damophon, which had been discovered in the Sanctuary of Artemis Lycosoura in Arcadia in 1889.

Richter described the little Maiden as: “a dainty, charming lady, with an elaborate coiffure, rich garments, and a radiant smile. The comparatively well-preserved colors (red on hair, lips, mantle, ornaments; blue –now oxidized to green –on tunic, diadem, earring; purple on borders; and so forth)… They enable us to appreciate how successfully the Greeks used color on sculpture.”

The Fiasco of Another Loan

Richter was right to emphasize in her report the Metropolitan Museum’s success in arranging the first-ever display of Greek antiquities outside Greece. Until then, Greece had participated in world fairs with casts only. Many Americans of Richter’s generation would have remembered the fiasco of another loan in 1924. In that case, the request had not come from an American museum but from a private individual, Henry Morgenthau (1856-1946).  

Henry Morgenthau Sr. Source: Library of Congress. Public Domain

In 1923, Morgenthau, former U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1913-1916) as well as a successful businessman, had been appointed by the League of Nations to head the Refugee Settlement Committee in Greece following the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922. More than that, Morgenthau had publicly condemned the Turks for having committed atrocities against the Armenians, the Greeks, and other minorities of the Ottoman Empire. To honor Morgenthau’s philhellenism and philanthropic work, the Greek State decorated him with the Grand Cordon of the Savior.

According to The New York Times, before leaving for the U.S., Morgenthau approached the Greek Government with “a proposal that he take the statue by Praxiteles of Hermes… on a tour of the United States for the purpose of raising $12,000,000 in behalf of Greece’s refugees. Mr. Morgenthau said that he was convinced that New York City alone would give $1,000,000 to see the statue. The Vima [a Greek newspaper] said that Greece might consent to the proposal if the request came from the American government and a warship was sent to fetch it” (April 24, 1924). A few days later the same newspaper reported that “it is thought a special case could be built for a national tour, and [that] Mr. Morgenthau believed popular subscriptions from universities, art museums and municipalities would amply cover the cost of the transportation of the statue” (The New York Times, April 28, 1924).

The statue of Hermes from Olympia. Source: ASCSA Archives, Alison Frantz Photographic Collection.

Other newspapers, such The Guardian, presented the story slightly differently, attributing the initiative for the loan to the Greek Government: “These are great times for ‘gestures’… But for the moment the Greek Government beats the record in gracefulness of international gesture by offering America a free loan of the most precious of all Greece’s portable treasures of art… Facing all the perils of shipwreck and land accident, the Greeks offer to let Americans, in all their great cities, have a sight of this world’s wonder with their own eyes, in return for American generosity to Greek sufferers by the war…”(May 3, 1924). The Boston Globe mockingly worried that: “After a few weeks’ travel on American railroads he [Hermes] will look like a statue of Humpty Dumpty after the fall” (May 6, 1924).

At any rate, the proposal met strong objections from the international archaeological community. Edward Robinson, the Director of the Metropolitan Museum, was quoted saying that “while he sympathized with the sentimental side of the proposal, the technical problems involved in the transportation of the statue are so serious that there would be danger of the loss of the Hermes to the world. Other lovers of art in this country are gasping at such a possibility and powerful opposition has developed against…” (The Indianapolis News, May 24, 1924). Moreover, the Managing Committee of the ASCSA in its May meeting passed a resolution that [the School] “is emphatically opposed to the proposal to bring the Hermes of Praxiteles to the United States for exhibition, because of the risk of damage that would attend its removal.”

In addition, in the records of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, there is another resolution signed by thirteen directors of U.S. art museums for the American Association of Art Museum Directors: “… the people of the United States should not become a party to any transaction that might result in irreparable injury to this priceless heritage of Greece (NARA 868.4032, May 8, 1924). A month later Ray Atherton, ad interim United States Ambassador to Greece wrote to Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State: “I believe that the proposal was not seriously made by its American originator [meaning Morgenthau], though even the suggestion of such action evoked a storm of protest locally” and that the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs had assured Atherton that permission would never be given (NARA 868.4032/2, June 7, 1924).  

The Greek Pavilion at the World Fair of 1939

Fifteen years after the Hermes fiasco, the Greek government, under Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, and the archaeological community agreed to send the five pieces of ancient sculpture to New York for the World’s Fair. Soon after his appointment as Prime Minister in 1936, Metaxas proceeded to establish an authoritarian and nationalist regime that lasted until his death in 1941. Even if there were any objections, they were not made public.

Niki Sakka and Yannis Hamilakis in separate works have discussed extensively the ideology of Metaxas’s regime in relationship to antiquity, such as the promotion of Spartan ideals and the glorification of the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, as well as the close ties between Hellenism and Orthodoxy. With the enthusiastic support of Spyridon Marinatos, Director of Antiquities since 1937, Metaxas’s regime saw the World’s Fair of 1939 as an opportunity to showcase internationally the glorious past of Greece, as well as select features of modern Greece.  There was an emphasis on peasant life and folk art, with titles such as: “In this Classical land of Greece peasant life goes on as of old.” 

The Gennadius Library has a copy of the exhibition catalogue which also featured full-page portraits of King George II, Prime Minister Metaxas, and Press Secretary Theologos Nikoloudis, all by Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (Nelly’s), the renowned Greek photographer and a favorite of the Metaxas’s regime.    

Cover and title page of the catalogue of the Greek Pavilion. Source: ASCSA, Gennadius Library.
The Maiden (Kore 675) from the Acropolis and the marble head from the Asklepieion, as displayed in the catalogue of the Greek Pavilion.
The gravestone of Ampharete, the Titan’s head from Arcadia, and the bronze head from Thrace, as displayed in the catalogue of the Greek Pavilion.

For the construction of the Greek pavilion in New York, designed by architects Dimitri and Alexandra Moretis, it is said that 60 tons of marble were quarried in Greece and sent to the States. (After the dismantling of the pavilion, the marble was shipped to Tarpon Springs in Florida for the construction of St. Nicholas church.) A plaster cast of the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles was placed outside the pavilion. Four big murals by artist Gerasimos Steris (an artist who often changes names, nationalities, and countries) illustrating the history and continuity of Greek civilization decorated the façade of the pavilion. The interior was dominated by large photographic collages by Nelly’s which juxtaposed ancient portraits with portraits of contemporary Greeks so as to show the racial continuity of the Greek nation. The five pieces of sculpture together with plaster casts of other well-known Greek statues were on display there. (I have not been able to locate good quality photos of the exterior or the interior of the Greek Pavilion on the web.)

The World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939, at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens. On the occasion, the Greek Consul in New York invited Marinatos for a grand lecture tour to present the results of his excavations on Crete, Cephallonia, and his latest at Thermopylae. The latter had already been covered extensively in the press with titles such as: “Seeks Tombs of Ancient Spartans” and “Tombs of Ancient Spartan Heroes are Being Sought at Thermopylae (The Baltimore Sun, July 9, 1939; Winnipeg Tribune, July 18, 1939).

Marinatos was also meant to supervise the return of the five originals. However, Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the subsequent declaration of war against Germany by England and France made a safe passage for the Greek antiquities a risky business. The Greek Government in consultation with Marinatos made the decision to lend the five sculptures to the Metropolitan Museum for the duration of the war (ASCSA Archives, Spyridon Marinatos Papers, Box 2, folder 5) “The collection, valued at $2,000,000, is too valuable to entrust to ocean travel and the menace of submarine attack,” wrote The Evening Sun on October 19, 1939.

And thus the visit of the Acropolis Maiden to America was extended from a few months to eight years.


In 1963, in anticipation of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Greek Archaeological Council rejected once again a proposal to send the Hermes statue on a transatlantic voyage. In fact, the Council “opposed in principle the removal of any ancient art treasures from Greek territory” (The New York Times, November 18, 1963). John Kondis, the Director General of Greek Antiquities was quoted saying: “many dangers are involved. We’re definitely opposed to the export of any antiquity.” In addition, Kondis “recalled that in 1938 three statues were sent to the New York Fair against the council’s advice” and that “they were overtaken by war there and were repatriated 10 years later.”

But by the 1960s, Greece could participate in the World’s Fair with another kind of cultural commodities. For example, on May 24, 1965, a special screening of the movie Zorba the Greek was organized at the Greek Pavilion. The movie had already won three Academy Awards and was scheduled to open at eleven theaters in New York the following day (The Morning Call, p. 10). Other newspapers reported that Greece was advertising its cuisine: “A famous Greek chef is in charge of the food preparations. Featured will be a cheese pie called Tiropitta, also the Moussaka casserole made of ground-beef, eggplant and cheese” (The Spokesman Review, March 22, 1964). However, the Daily News published a letter/complaint by the Consul General of Greece, titled “Greece in the Clear,” informing the public that “this pavilion and restaurant is not under the sponsorship of the Greek Government. As is the case with many other countries and their exhibits, this pavilion was erected and sponsored by various Greek businessmen who have no affiliation whatsoever with the Greek government” (September 30, 1964).


Hamilakis, Y. 2007. The Nation and its Ruins: Antiquity, Archaeology, and National Imagination in Greece, Oxford.

Mantzourani E. and N. Marinatou (eds.), 2014 . Σπυρίδων Μαρινάτος, 1901-1974. Η ζωή και η εποχή του, Athens.

Markessinis, A. 2016. The Greek Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Torrazza Piemonte.

Richter, G. 1972. My Memoirs: Recollections of an Archaeologist’s Life, Rome.

Sakka, N. 2002. Αρχαιολογικές δραστηριότητες στην Ελλάδα (1928-1940): Πολιτικές και ιδεολογικές διαστάσεις (Diss. University of Rethymnon).


In 1897 a young American woman announced in the newspapers her return to Chicago after a year in Europe. “Miss Mabel Gordon Dunlap of Michigan Boulevard, who has been in Europe for a year, will sail for home on Wednesday” (Chicago Inter Ocean, August 15, 1897). The same woman had also made an earlier announcement that she was still in London “spending most of her time at the British Museum” (17 July 1897). While in London she printed a handsome pamphlet, titled “A Critical Study of Sculpture and Painting,” that contained information about her as a teacher and a lecturer, and a summary of two art courses that she was “ready to deliver before ladies’ clubs and schools” in the winter: “A Course of Twelve Lectures on the History & Philosophy of Greek Sculpture,” and “A Course of Twelve Lectures of the History of Painting in Italy.” While in England she had attended lectures by Charles Waldstein, Professor of Fine Arts at Cambridge University (and former Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens), whom she quoted in her brochure: “There are those who make art, there are those who enjoy art, and there are those who understand art.” Dunlap’s courses, fully illustrated with stereopticon views, were designed to help people understand art.

The pamphlet that Mabel Gordon Dunlap published in 1897. ASCSA Archives, Ion Dragoumis Papers.
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Mr. and Mrs. Cincinnatus in Athens, Thessaloniki, and Spetses


Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here writes extensively about a Greek couple, Anastasios and Ellie Adossides, once prominent and influential at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, but now largely forgotten.

If ever a husband and wife deserved special honors from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (hereafter, the ASCSA or the School), it would be Anastasios and Ellie Hatzilazarou Adossides.  Both Anastasios and Ellie spent most of their lives in the public eye, in the service of Greece, and, in his case, also of the ASCSA.  Yet neither is commemorated at our Kolonaki campus, despite the fact that Anastasios and Ellie protected it, and he ultimately gave his life for the School.   On Anastasios’s death in 1942, his dear friends from the Athenian Agora Excavations and Athens College, Homer Thompson, Lucy Talcott, and Homer Davis, wrote:

“There can be no substitute for the autobiography that modesty forbade [ Anastasios] writing, the book which might more than any other have interpreted to Europe and to America the Greece of the last quarter-century (The Philhellene 2: 3-4, pp. 3-5).”  

The three continued: “The American Minister to Greece [Lincoln MacVeagh], himself a New Englander, has called Adossides the most conscientious person he has ever known, and claims that no New England conscience ever approached his.” From the Greek side, Eleutherios Venizelos said publicly of Anastasios that in his political career he had met very few men of equal courage and frankness. 

G. Dorys, Abdul-Hamid intime, Paris 1901.

Both Anastasios and Ellie led exciting lives in tumultuous times, lives of a sort that are difficult today to imagine.  Anastasios, born in 1873 into a distinguished Ottoman family, began his adventures as a young man in Constantinople.  His father served the Porte both as Prince of Samos and as Governor of Crete.  His troubles began in 1901, when, while working as a journalist, he published under the pen name “Georges Dorys” a scathing biography of the Ottoman sultan titled Abdul-Hamid intime.  Anastasios was home when a trusted Albanian servant informed him that police had surrounded the house.  Dressed in the uniform of a French officer he managed to escape by a back door. Then, with help from relatives in the Russian consulate, he made his way to a French ship anchored in the harbor, only to learn there was cholera on board.  

Paradoxically, cholera was his salvation.  The police were afraid to board. When the shipboard doctor became ill, he assumed his duties, and, after quarantine in Marseille, he resumed his career as a journalist in Paris.  

In 1907, Adossides married Ellie, whom he had met in Athens. Ellie had been born in Thessaloniki in 1878 into a noble family, was tutored at home, and subsequently was sent to school in Germany and Switzerland.  Her own adventures began when her life became intertwined in the politics of Eleftherios Venizelos and his Liberal movement.

Ellie and Anastasios Adossides, Paris 1910s. Source: Adosidoy 2016.

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The Agora Benches


Judith Robinson Levine has a high fashion design degree from Les Écoles de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, France. She worked for 12 years in film and still photography in France as a stylist and a costume designer. Currently, she is a photo stylist specializing in package photography and, in her spare time, she does interior design and a variety of special projects for private clients and non-profits. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband Daniel Levine, Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Arkansas, whom she has assisted during his ASCSA Summer Session directorships in Greece.

In 2008 Daniel and I spent spring semester in Greece. I spent a lot of time in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School hereafter) researching the history of the School’s Summer Sessions. In studying old logbooks and Annual Reports, I was fascinated by the WW II years and the story of Anastasios Adossides, Administrator and Business Manager of the Athenian Agora Excavations from 1931 to 1942. He and his wife Elie, who was active with the Red Cross, were responsible for making sure that the School was occupied by the Swiss and Swedish Red Cross commissions to Greece during the war; thus they ensured that the School’s property in Kolonaki could never be confiscated by the Germans (Meritt 1984, p. 17).

Jack Davis in an essay titled “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism” noted about Adossides and Edward Capps, Chair of the School’s Managing Committee: “The careers of two individuals exemplify the sorts of ties forged between ASCSA members and influential Greek statesmen, and the resulting benefits to the School. The first is Anastasios Adossides (1873–1942), administrator of Samos in 1914–1915, a member of the provisional government of Venizelos in Thessaloniki in 1917, governor of Macedonia in 1918–1919, prefect of the Cyclades and Samos in the early 1920s, and subsequently the business manager of the Athenian Agora and consultant to the ASCSA (1931–1942)… Their personal relationship was valuable to the School during the negotiations between the ASCSA and the Greek government that established the legal groundwork for the inception of excavations of the Athenian Agora in 1931” (Davis 2013, p. 16). Sylvie Dumont in her recent publication of Vrysaki: A Neighborhood Lost in Search for the Athenian Agora (Princeton 2020) has dedicated an entire chapter on Adossides’s role in the expropriation of the land where the ancient Agora once stood (pp. 63-73). Read the rest of this entry »