by Mona Savvidou-Theodoulou
As published in In Focus Vol.9, No. 1, March 2012
A successful two-day symposium on the subject “Historical and Intellectual Marathasa” was held at Pedhoulas on January 28 and 29, 2012. It was organised by the Cyprus PEN Centre in cooperation with the community of Pedhoulas and sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture and by the community of Pedhoulas.
Despite the wintry cold and the snow on Troodos, delegates from Nicosia, Limassol and the villages of Marathasa attended the Symposium. In his welcome speech, the President of Cyprus PEN, Mr Panos Ioannides, said that the PEN Symposium at Pedhoulas had become an annual institution, while the President of Pedhoulas Council, Mr Andreas Pavlou, expressed his satisfaction, his interest in and his support of culture.
In her talk, Ms Nasa Patapiou, historian-researcher at the Cyprus Research Centre, drew from her research in the Venetian archives of the 16th century information about Marathasa, which was a fiefdom, earldom of Rocha or Edessis. She referred to the name Marathasa, which is a corruption of the word Myrianthousa, to the twenty-eight villages of the area, the number of inhabitants, their origin and their names, and to the role of the Most Serene Republic of Venice in the area. Sources for the period are Florios Boustronis and Leontios Machairas. She also made mention in her presentation of the historical period of Venetian rule in Cyprus to Cypriots who distinguished themselves in Venice. Mr Ioannis Eliades, Director of The Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation, gave a talk, accompanied by a slide presentation, on the art in Marathasa during Venetian rule. The artistic production of Marathasa makes the area one of the most noteworthy artistic regions of Cyprus. He referred to Cypro-renaissance art and its characteristics and to artists who had studied in Italy, and showed the palaiologean and western-influenced painting in various churches of the area. Mr Haris Hodjakoglou, in a review of the Byzantine art of Marathasa, referred to the imperial monastery, Kykkos, the relations of its monks with Byzantium, papal policy during Latin rule and the rivalry of the two dogmas, which determined the Greek identity of the inhabitants of the island. He made special reference to the icon of the Virgin of the imperial monastery, Panayia Kykkotissa, and to other icons of the same Virgin which were in the churches of the region.
Mr George Christodoulides spoke about the educational dimension in Marathasa, the educational programme and assessed its work, also providing statistics. He ended with conclusions about the effects of the demographic situation of the area.
In his talk, Mr Andreas Jakovljevic, Director of the Byzantine Section of the Research Centre of Kykkos Monastery, presented a unique Psalter, which he located in the library of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, decorated with capital letters from the school of calligraphers of Kykkos Monastery by the artist Symeon Kykkotis from Pedhoulas. It is the only one in the history of Marathasa, of help to history, education and culture.
Mr Kostis Kokkinoftas, history researcher, talked about the senior clergy and learned clerics who, as Archbishops, Bishops and Patriarchs, brought renown to the monasteries of the area.
Dr Klitos Ioannides talked about the intellectual and heroic figures of Marathasa from 1821 onwards and spoke at length about the hero of 1955-59 Markos Drakos, the saint of the Freedom Struggle, who was killed by the British in 1957 and was the soul of the area. His grave is among the Imprisoned Graves. He also referred to Doros Alastos and Ierotheos Kykkotis, eminent intellectuals, who were, in addition to their writing, active in political-national matters.
Mrs Vassiliki Kourea, philologist and formerly a teacher, talked about the tradition, which has existed in the area from the time of Turkish rule and is confirmed by toponyms of the area and also relevant findings, of the disappearance of the two villages of Marathos and Troullinos as a result of massacre by the Turks.
The Symposium ended with the announcement of the results of the Poetry Competition announced by the Cyprus PEN. The first prize was won by a poem by Nikos Zanopoulos. The second prize was awarded to Barbara Christoforou. Ten poets took part in the competition.