Pics 1-3 are by Perkin Warbeck
The ABC of Sicily’s Ancient East.
Archimedes, Bellini and Capote are the ABC of Sicily’s Ancient East.
Archimedes, reponsible for the catchphrase re rising bath water lifting all rubber duckies, had his Eureka ! moment in Siracusa in the south east of Sicily. This caused him to run through the cobblestoned streets of the Greek-speaking city, lomnocht. At that time cicra 250 BC, Siracusa was the biggest Greek city in the known world. It is unlikely the Big A, who showed great promise at sums from an early age, ever set his size 15 foot, wet or dry/ fliuch nó tirim, on the Mainland of Greece.
Another reminder of colonial Siracusa is the limestone cave in the hills above the city, The Ear of Dionysus. (Griangraf 1). It was the painter Caravaggio, on his first visit there in 1608, who coined the nickname, Orechio di Dionisio.
Bellini, Vincenzo is the favourite son of Catania, the capital city of Eastern Sicily. The cultural legacy of the tuneful operatic composer is everwhere commemorated, including a statue, opera house, street, square, alley, ristoranti e alberghi (Griangraf 2). Bellini Átha Cliath, anyone?
His melodies have infiltrated Western popular culture. ‘I see the moon, the moon sees me’, for instance, a big hit for The Stargazers in the Fabulous Fifites, borrowed its tune from Act I of Norma by Bellini.
Nearer to home, in the Free Southern Stateen, another Bellini melody, this time from I Puritani, surfaced as ‘Arrayed for the Bridal’, a pretty piano piece in the drawing room of the Misses Morkan in the movie of ‘The Dead’ by J. A. Joyce. While one is, as always, reluctant to gratuitously warp the wing mirror of controversy, nonetheless one has to start snorting somewhere.
This celebrated short story is a milestone along the crooked road to Gaelphobia. And the líne which the Donal McCann character utters: ‘Irish is not my language’ never fails to prompt the Chums of Complsory English to throw their sweaty nightcaps into the air, whooping with a West British brio. Even has the Archimedes of Occidental England himself, Fineminded Fintan O Toole, aquaplaning at an Anglo angle like billy-o during the dry spell of the heatwave (any omadawn could do it in watery weather ) up and down the length and breadth of Ireland’s Ancient East, celebrating:
-The Death of Anglophobia !
(And all this while his Colombian third cousin, twice improved, Senor Pekerman was doing his bit for the death of Anglophobia by craftily overseeing to it that England won the penalty shoot out, so he was).
When Official Over-Friendly Oirland launched this brand new geo-historical concept, Ireland’s Ancient East, with branding irony in hand, this corporate entity conspired to do so in such corkscrew prose that it somehow achieved the nigh impossible: it omitted any mench of The G for Gaelic Thingy.
In Sicilia they order things differently: while The G for Greek Thingy is indeed to the forefront, monumental wise, the linguistic element is nowhere to be seen. This adheres to the Shakespearian adage that words armwrestle mere stones to the horizontal, any day.
Catania is located on the coast of Sicily East, roughly equidistant between Sicacusa to the south and Taormina to the north, each 90 minues or so on the autobus.
Capote, Truman, aka the Grass Harp, was attracted to Taormina (it rhymes with historically hopeless Ballymena) with a host of other literary layabouts, thereby following in the high-stepping footsteps of O.Wilde and other ganymedes of a former era. Not least on account of its God-designed location, perched on a cliff twixt a louring Mount Etna to the west and the shoring Ionian Sea to the east.
Woody Allen, the foremost fillumic genius of the age (a hundred million harpies who slight him, can’t be right) spotted the possibilities of the Greek amphitheatre in Taormina (Griangraf 3). Thus, he located the comic Greek chorus in his ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ there. The inspired choice of F. Murray Abraham as leader of the chorus was far too spot-on for a hundred million harpies to spot.
Bhronn an Gréigigh féiríní ar Sicilia; ansin, rinne na dúchasaigh rogha sar a dhein siad a gcuid féin de na bronntanais roghnaithe.