Pythian Games

The Delphic Games Revival

A few years ago a good friend and fellow artist invited me to his house and as we sat around the dinner table he produced an old black box with a peculiar and fragile handle that made it look like a miniature suitcase of the kind I had never seen before. It looked old and weathered, but it had been able to withstand the abuse of the years despite its frayed corners and the washed off black color that was grayed behind a layer of permanent dust frost. "You will probably appreciate this more than I can" he said as he handed it to me carefully.

I opened it slowly eager to see its contents but still afraid that the whole thing would disintegrate from such normal use. Inside I found a number of very old black and white slides that looked like giants compared with the ektachrome variety I use today, and were printed on solid glass. They looked like Daguerreotypes but I am no expert on the subject so I focused on the content. The slides documented a festival from the beginning of the century, and after a little research I realized that it must have been of the revival of the Delphic Idea that Aggelos Sikelianos (a very capable Greek poet) organized in Delphi in 1927. He was aspiring to revive the Delphic Idea in the spirit of humanism. The festival was a major event with many Greek and European artists and intellectuals participating in the festivities.

The Delphic Games in 1927 featured the play "Pormetheus Bound", but despite the financial support of Sikelianos' American wife Eva Palmer and the Greek state, the games were too expensive. The festivities occured once again in 1928 for the second and last time in modern times.

The slides presented here were given to my friend by an old friend of his who had herself acquired them from another friend, so their story was lost in all the exchanges. They seemed to be the kind of objects that one buys in jubilation to share with friends and to preserve memories, only to be forgotten in a dark corner in a drawer or a basement. Yet, they look like the kind of object that is interesting enough to escape the casual trashing that comes with the occasional cleaning of the old attic.

I thought they were interesting images and they looked so old (75 years) that they must have passed in the public domain by now, so I decided to give them a little more exposure than the kind my dark drawers could afford them. If you have any information on the events, or the slides themselves, I would appreciate it if you could share your knowledge with me.

See more photos of the Pythian Games


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