Last modified: 2014-09-28 by ivan sache
Keywords: aegina |
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Flag of Aegina - Image by Thanos Tzikis, 18 April 2004
The municipality of Aegina (13,552 inhabitants in 2001, 7,783 in the town of Aegina proper; 8,741 ha) consists of the island of Aegina and a few offshore islets, which lie in the Saronic Gulf, south of Athens. The municipality was not changed with the 2011 local government reform.
Minos, King of Creta, once fell in love with the local nymph Britomartis, Zeus' daughter. Pursued by Minos, the nymph swam from Creta to Aegina, where she hid in a wood that became her dedicated sanctuary. The temple built there was dedicated to Aphaía, which means in ancient Greek "The missing person". Venerated by hunters and fishers, the nymph, however, was never completely confused with Artemis or Athena.
It seems that the first shrine dedicated to Aphaía was set up by Cretan seamen who moored in the bay of Agí Marína c. 1,300 BP. However, the temple was built much later by the Dorians, in the middle of the 6th century BP. Aegina was then a wealthy and independent town, famous for its merchant navy, its silver turtles used as currency by the whole Greek world, and its victories in the Panhellenic Games. Also with a strategic value, the island was submitted by Athens after a long fight.
The temple is famous for its pediment sculptures made in Paros marble. Discovered in 1811 by the "Dilettanti" Germano-British expedition, the sculptures were 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 born in Aegina.
Source: Kostas Papaoiannou. L'art grec (Citadelles & Mazenod) - Notice on the Aphaía temple by Jean Bousquet.
Ivan Sache & Olivier Touzeau, 3 November 2012
The flag of Aegina (Kokkonis website) 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 (Aegina First capital of the new Greek state). The town of Aegina was indeed the first capital of Greece after the independance, even for about a month. The government then moved to Nafplio and finally to Athens.
Thanos Tzikis, Ivan Sache & Olivier Touzeau, 3 November 2012