Last modified: 2004-12-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: aegina | turtle (green) | cross (blue) | anchor: fouled (white) |
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by Thanos Tzikis
The island of Aegina lies in the Argosaronikos Bay, south of Athens. It has today 12,430 inhabitants, 6,373 of them living in the city of Aegina.
There was once a nymph from Creta, Zeus' daughter, called Britomartis.
Minos, king of Creta, fell in love with her and pursued her. The nymph
swam from Creta to Aegina, where she hid in a wood which became her
dedicated sanctuary. The temple built there was called Aphaia, which
means in ancient Greek "The missing person". The nymph was venerated by
hunters and fishers, but was never completely confused with Artemis or Athena.
It seems that the first shrine dedicated to Aphaia was set up by Cretan seamen who moored in the bay of Haghia Marina c. 1,300 BP. However, the temple was built much later by the Dorians, in the middle of the VIth century BP. Aegina was then a wealthy and independent city, famous for its merchant navy, its silver turtles used as currency by the whole Greek world, and its victories in the Panhellenic Games. The island also had a strategic value and was submitted by Athens after a long fight. The temple is famous for its pediment sculptures made in Paros marble. They were discovered in 1811 by the Germano-British expedition called Dilettanti and sold to crown prince Louis of Bavaria, "restored" in Rome by the Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen, and eventually shown in 1828 in the Glyptothek in Munich. After the Second World War, Thorvaldsen's unfortunate neo-Classical restorations were suppressed and the sculptures were submitted to scientific evaluation. One of the heroes shown on the sculptures is Herakles' friend Telamon, who was from Aegina.
Source: Kostas Papaoiannou. L'art grec. Citadelles & Mazenod (notice on Aphaia temple by Jean Bousquet).
Ivan Sache, 18 April 2004
The flag of Aegina is diagonally divided by a white stripe, with the upper part blue with a blue cross outlined in white and the lower part red with a white fouled anchor. In the middle of the flag, a white disc is charged with a green turtle, the island's symbol in the ancient Greece. Under the turtle is written ΝΗΣΟΣ ΑΙΓΙΝΑ (Nisos Aigina, Aegina Island) and the diagonal inscription says: ΑΙΓΙΝΑ: ΠΡΩΤΗ ΠΡΩΤΕΥΟΥΣΑ ΤΟΥ ΝΕΟΤΕΡΟΥ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟΥ ΚΡΑΤΟΥΣ (Aigina: proti protevusa tu neoteru elliniku kratus, Aegina: First capital city of the new Greek state). The city of Aegina was indeed the first Greek capital city after the independance, even for about a month. The government then moved to Nafplio and finally to Athens.
Thanos Tzikis & Ivan Sache, 18 April 2004