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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Lysicrates Choragic Monument, Athens and Sydney

I have recently received an interesting email from my old friend Jeremy Eccles in Sydney, Australia, who has kindly agreed to let me use it on this blog:

"As a Philhellene you are no doubt aware of Lysicrates? And, no doubt also familiar with the Lysicrates Monument in Athens and its imitation in Sydney?

Lysicrates was the winner one year of the Great Dionysia competition voted on by 15,000 ardent Athenians. And he would never have been heard of in Australia without the arrival of Sir John Young (later Lord Lisgar) as Governor in 1861, fresh from his post as Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands.

Young brought with him drawings of the Athens monument and showed them to one James Martin, lawyer, MP, Attorney-General and 3 times Premier of NSW - who seized on them to build a replica in his garden at Potts Point. When the navy took that lot over in the 1940s, it was moved to the Botanical Gardens - and recently restored by an amazing couple called Azarias - who have gone on to establish the Lysicrates Prize. 

Martin was a great Greek language enthusiast and lover of Byron. He was from the household of a horse groom in Ireland who was brought out by Governor Brisbane, accepting the job at least in part because of the chances it might give his son! Young James had to walk 13 miles from Parramatta to school in Sydney, where he discovered the Classics. Martin Place was his only reward in the current day before the Azarias came along"- Jeremy Eccles.

Thanks Jeremy - and for the helpful information on Tiwi Island artists!

Additional (links):

Choragic Monument of Lysicrates unveiled, Neos Kosmos

More information

Lord Byron, Letter to John Cam Hobhouse, The Convent, Athens, August 23d. 1810

"I am most auspiciously settled in the Convent, which is more commodious than any tenement I have yet occupied, with room for my suite...we are very disorderly"

It is said he sometimes used the hollow monument of Lysicrates as his study.

Letter to Francis Hodgson, Athens -January 20th, 1811:

"I am living in the Capuchin Convent, Hymettus before me, the Acropolis behind, the temple of Jove to my right, the Stadium in front, the town to the left, eh, Sir, there's a situation, there's your picturesque!"

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