Αεί Έλλην Μαχόμενος ( SPIRA – FORD P WAIGHT collaboration )

Standard

This year marks the 2500 years anniversary from the battles of Thermopylae (August ) & Salamis (late September) in 480 BC during the Hellenic – Persian wars.

I am truly excited to honor the occasion with a collaboration with my good friend Ford P. Waight .

He is a British-born writer, drummer and mixed media artist who lives in France.

When I proposed the idea he just went all in!
And created the incredible ode to freedom you are about to read.

Small detail: I come from Salamis, my family has an ongoing history with the Hellenic Navy; so there is an extra level of personal involvement to the whole project.
Having said that, I could not have presented the historic gravity of the two battles better than the way Ford is doing here in his introductory post to our virtual collaboration.

A few more thoughts before we move on to the art created.

First of all: the Hellenic title “Αεί Έλλην Μαχόμενος ” is the result of a naming contest I held at Facebook, a proposal by Pavlos Karanikos.
The meaning, word for word, is Forever Hellenas fighting.

(Side note: for space economy purposes I will not add a hellenic translation of my text – for the poem is a our common decision not to do so, in order to preserve the music of the poet’s words).

If I have to identify the source of this creation/collaboration, it has to be freedom.

Look at the pandemic we are all in right now.
Is it not a difficult lesson in appreciating ?
Simple things like hugging another person, being able to look at one’s face when we talk to each other (instead of our phone screens) ?

Whether we like it or not, acknowledge it or not , we have the luxury to ” exercise the pleasure and freedom of such a simple thing as artistic collaboration” as Ford concluded, because of the freedom we inherited.
But, do we appreciate it?

Without further ado, here are the fruits of our collaborative effort.

Both Ford and I thank you for the time spent with us celebrating the appreciation of our collective inheritance of freedom.

***

The Breaking of Bread

By Ford P. Waight

In 480 BC, Athens, during the Greco-Persian Wars, a poet predicts the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis to come.

Despair not for those who may fall to no longer rise nor rattle nor sing.
Despair not at their broken bodies and spears, the helmets and swords,
The shields and trumpets bent and scattered about our lands.
Despair not for any dead soldier – for their blood will flow free
And course through the earth to find its channel to the rivers and sea,
Where the King of Kings lashes the waters which do not obey.
Despair not for our sailors who may rest under waves in eternal slumber,
The timbers of their triremes scattered like petals and beloved trinkets,
To bleach one day into artefacts washed ashore, reshaped into art
Which will tell its tales of the sons and daughters of Hellenes
Who each vowed to fight the one who came to conquer them.
Despair not.

Despair not at the cruel songs of our children – for they are young
And will taste freedom like honey scooped up in their palms,
And they will grow to learn that monsters are men after all is done,
And that beasts may be crushed with allegiances formed in the right places.
Let them sing if they must of the King of Kings – as tall and mighty as a tree –
Yet wringing wet and stripped of his jewels and unquestioning army,
How he weighs nought but a skinny bear starved a whole winter long.
Shall we watch his hordes flee and leave him as one as mortal as you and I?
Sing then, children, if it pleases you: “O King of Kings, cruel tyrant, mad dog,
Turn back your magnificent fleet, and may the mother of all storms
Sink you deep to the bottom of the sea.”

Yet, children, I would propose always and first: would that king accept
An invitation to sit at our table and drink our wine; to listen to our songs
With attentive ear, and to gaze upon our culture with eyes set not to conquer,
But to criticise freely or draw joy as he pleases;
And would he walk our sun-blessed lands in serenity and not cast his will
To claim our freedom… these are not our terms but our hospitality.
O, how we long that he might accept our gifts.
What joy to think of him as not mad and cruel, but our brother.
Yet – how long must we be patient for his hand to meet ours not in battle –
But in peace? Let him send his bejewelled emissaries each day if he chooses,
To oil our palms and grease our bones.
And we shall tell them, straight as a spear halving the breeze:
“Eat with us, or die with us.”

Despair not, children of Hellenes, the table is set for guests at all times.
Let them pull up their seats those Great Kings of Countries and Kings of Kings,
For our nourishment and song is theirs if they choose.
And despair not if an empty seat foretells of the perils to come;
Blunt visions of the dead littered across our lands and under our seas.
By absence we know our enemies are hungry not for the feast
But a bloodshed so wild it will be scored in time.
Despair not.
We break our bread daily,
As before we did,
And after,
And forevermore.
O children, this is the inheritance of freedom.

***

Driftwood, clay with patina – 36cm x 15 cm, 37 cm height.

The clay inscription from the Thermopylae side is Μολών Λαβέ : Come and get them , the famous answer of the Spartans to the Persian demand to surrender their weapons.

The clay inscription from the Salamis side is from Aeschylus tragedy “The Persians” and is a part of the battle song the crews of the Hellenic fleet sang as they attacked the Persian fleet.
Ώ παίδες Ελλήνων ίτε.
Νύν υπέρ πάντων αγών:
Children of Hellenes go forward.
Now above everything else is our fight.

The trireme figurehead is based on the Naxos Sphinx

If you reached this far and you have the stamina to take a look at two relative creations, here you are 🙂

Anthropos ” from 2014
&
Μολών Λαβέ ” from 2015

//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\

22 responses »

  1. Nik,
    As you already know, I am not a man who expresses his feeling easily in front of others. Even a simple post seems to me difficult to write. But this time, I will not hesitate…
    Sometimes life is not easy to live and in this journey you may get hit hard.
    In my case, hits will never hurt me.
    Like Spartans, although they knew they where heavily outnumbered, they never were afraid, at any time, because they had each other to count on; so do I am shouting ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ, without being afraid, because I have you to count on.
    I am thankful and grateful, that I am making every step side by side with you my brother.
    And YES, besides all else, you are a fucking awesome artist!
    You out there, move aside, he is passing through, carving an extraordinary and memorable path.
    I am so proud of you, you can’t even imagine.
    Yours Brother always,
    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael, my brother…words can’t hold the weight of my feelings right now…
      ( If someone else ,besides you, is reading this : you should now that Michael is the godfather of my creation since he planted the idea months ago. )

      Side by side, shield by shield …always my Brother.

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on TVTA and commented:
    Friends, I am so happy to present via the blog of my good friend and collaboration partner – Spira – the fruits of our artistic endeavour to mark the 2500th anniversary of the battles for freedom at Thermopylae and Salamis which took place in 480 BC. Please add your thoughts and feelings over at Spira’s place, and join us in this celebration of one of the greatest gifts we can ever enjoy – freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mate, it’s just brilliant to see this post at last – the fruits of our team-up! You have presented our thoughts and ideas perfectly. Bravo to you, to us, and to freedom.
    Friends, as I was working on my part, I had the luxury of seeing only a couple of small pics of this wonderful sculpture you see today. I knew it was going to be something special. What I love best is the idea of having two facets representing each battle – from the battle-scarred helmet on one side; with its trailing ribbon of red, to the trireme on the other; see the subtle placement of those oars representing the three tiers of the boat’s engine – see the Sphinx figurehead, the details of the water, and what I even see as the detail of a soul-fish.
    What do you see?
    Each time I look, I see new aspects revealed in the different lighting and angles – and this can be found often in Spira’s work, and one which always delights.
    It has been a pleasure to be a part of this collaboration. And reading up – I offer a thank you to Michael (who I don’t know) for planting the seed of this tribute to freedom you see today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a release, isn’t it? Almost birth like (minus the excruciating pain).
      I am glad and relieved you feel as you do for the presentation. It’s worth noting that we didn’t approve in advance each others post; just trusted each other and it is telling…
      It has been a pleasure , a privilege and an honor. Cheers to more to come.
      And since it’s a special occasion allow me to paraphrase slightly Dylan Thomas saying :
      ” We won’t go gentle into that good night…
      rage, rage against the dying of the light”
      To freedom & keeping the light alive my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent, dramatic heroic poem. Not about the lust for war, but a plea for peace. Get to know us and you will love our culture, why wage war, try to know and understand us first. This is a better option However, if it’s a war you want, we will defend ourselves, to our last dying breath. It gets better with each reading. Wonderful poetry. The Carvings and metalwork as symbols of the battles are very realistic. I could easily picture them in battle. Bravo.

    Yet, children, I would propose always and first: would that king accept
    An invitation to sit at our table and drink our wine; to listen to our songs
    With attentive ear, and to gaze upon our culture with eyes set not to conquer,
    But to criticise freely or draw joy as he pleases;than bloodshed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for taking the time to review our effort. It is truly appreciated.
      Ford’s poem has a beating heart, hasn’t it? And as you get acquainted with it’s rythm, more layers are revealed!
      By the way, you made me the ultimate compliment by referring to ” metalwork”; it’s actually clay with detailed patina work, i.e layers upon layers untill it appears as metal.
      Now that I’m thinking of it, layering is a common thread of our collaboration!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Len. You nailed it with that observation for the plea to peace, and this was the crucial sentiment I was aiming for. I had only the luxury of seeing just a couple of small pics of Spira’s sculpture before it was complete (just the helmet side actually); and for this I was able to pursue a quite independent path – that said, after seeing the helmet side, I wanted to make reference to ‘helmets’ and ‘the battle-dead’ so at least part of what I wrote would marry to the sculpture. It was pleasing when the other section of the sculpture was revealed, with those three oars representing the trireme boat, which I had also referenced in the poem.
      It’s been interesting to go into a collaboration like this – “partially blind” in a way, to your partner’s creation (and I say “partially blind” now also as a ref to how the character Dilios ended up in the 300 film version). I keep finding themes and small circles 🙂
      Thanks again for your observations and comments. Very appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I had a feeling this was going to be something special, and you certainly didn’t disappoint on that score.

    The poem is incredible. I would love to hear an actor tackle it. There’s a swirling drama to its rhythm – which is pretty on point given the setting and subject – and it totally grabs you. Captivating! The sculpture is wonderful, too. I particularly like the close-up shots of the helmet; not only is it really nicely formed, but, on seeing right through, it forces us to reflect.

    Marvellous effort, both. Also, I did not know Ford was a drummer (or perhaps I did and forgot). Crazy multi-talented dude.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob, Ford is crazy and he is multi-talented indeed!

      You are spot on about hearing the poem with an actors voice. I had the exact same thought and I played around with the free edition of an app; sent Ford the result (one of numerous mails I bombarded him with) and it was Epic!!
      It deserves a proper voice acting to further enhance the enchantment Ford’s art already has.

      The see through effect was exactly what I was aiming for; I am so glad you felt that. There is something archetypical about it…
      It was a pleasure to read your thoughts. Thank you sincerely for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jacob, thanks so much for your thoughts here. The close-up shots of the helmet are incredible really, plus each mark and strike invokes points of the battle and shows the durability of the armour back then. Spira’s version of this is brilliant, as is the other side of the sculpture which I only saw when this post was published.
      As for the poem and a voice narration – good observation, and Spira is correct that he sent me a recording of one of the verses along with background music – and it was pretty epic to hear those words I wrote relayed in this way. Now, if only Patrick Stewart would give us just a few hours of his precious time! 🙂
      Thanks again for stopping by, much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. WOW!
    You guys sure put a lot into this article.
    Chapeau!!!
    I’ll need a second read!
    The images areA+++
    Thank you to both of you.
    I’m actually speechless, as you speak of what I know very little of.

    Liked by 2 people

What do you think / feel ? - Σχόλια ευπρόσδεκτα!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.