Opera: Giacchino Rossini: Siege of Corinth
We discussed the political inspiration behind the operas of Gioacchino Rossini. From Athens, Harry Papasotiriou writes; Here is a Greek note on Rossini. His opera "The Siege of Corinth" was inspired by the destruction of the island of Chios in 1822 by Ottoman irregular troops, a particularly brutal episode in the Greek War of Independence (1821-29). The destruction of Chios also inspired Delacroix to produce one of his most famous paintings. RH: Harry could also have mentioned the poem by Victor Hugo beginning "Les Turcs ont passé par là". What do the Turks say about this? Any mention of the Armenian massacres is greeted with howls of protest. Just yesterday the EU voted to begin negotiations for the entry of Turkey into the EU. Getting back to our "Learning History" project, one cause of European wars has been the conflicting versions of history in textbooks. What progress, if any, has the EU made in rewriting history textbooks? What do Turkish history textbooks say about such things as the Greek war of independence and the Armenian massacres? Or, for that matter the conquest of Constantinople and the occupation of Hungary and the Balkans? Admission to the EU will mean little if history textbooks continue to instill hatred. Some time ago David Pike noted the distortions of history in an address he heard at an Istanbul meeting.
This issue is acute because one condition for Turkey to enter the EU is that the power of the military be reduced. Since Ataturk, the military have ensured that Turkey remain a lay state. What happens if, with the military weakened, Turkey establishes an Islamic government? Talk of restoring the Caliphate, which Ataturk abolished, has been an intellectual theme since then, and it has recently become louder. Can anyone tell us what exactly this means? From 1300 to 1924 the seat of the Caliphate was Istanbul. Is that the proposed seat of the revived Caliphate? What would the European Union say or do? What building would the Caliphate occupy? It would not be like the Vatican, since it would be more aggressive. Constantinople was the capital of the Orthodox Church, but the Patriarch operates not out of Hagia Sophia but out of a small church and his activities are curtailed. Now the Greek Orthodox Church has its own Patriarch and pays no attention to the one in Istanbul, and I believe that is true of most Orthodox Churches. Perhaps Harry can explain to us why, instead of riding to defeat in Anatolia after World War I, the Greek generals did not take Istanbul, which was supposed to become Greek again. In the EU discussions I have heard no mention of all this.
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