Melina Merkouri (Mercouri) was an iconic presence both theatrically and politically not just in Greece but throughout the world. Many of her films are considered classics of world cinema, her recordings – she was no singer but damn she was a communicator – are still being sold, her theatrical appearances were proof of her magnetism and her fight for a free Greece reached the world. When she became Minister of Culture her achievements were many.
I have my own little bit of personal history with her – a brief meeting that enchanted me and that made me fall forever in love with her.
Its only right that there be a monument to her in Athens and though it is not in the most conspicuous of places – opposite the entrance to the Temple of Zeus on a busy street – it was a fine tribute to a great woman. You will notice the past tense – was – because for some reason someone has defaced the bust erected to celebrate her life and achievements. I don’t know what possessed someone to inflict damage on it and smash the nose. Was it the deliberate act of someone who disagreed with her politically and for whom she was no hero? Or was it – as so often happens in Roma – the thoughtless act of a drunken youth out on a binge to whom she meant nothing, just a piece of someone else’s property to be vandalized?
Whatever the reason I first noticed the damage over a year ago. A whole year ago! Surely someone in government – federal, state or municipal – can have something done to repair the damage. This woman who, when she was stripped of her citizenship by the Generals, proudly proclaimed “I was born a Greek! I will die a Greek!” deserves better from the country she loved and served.
24 ottobre – Sant’Antonio Maria Claret y Clara