Saturday, February 14, 2015


Meanwhile, back in the real world of Christians still fighting the Crusades against the Infidel Muslim, and Muslims still making Jihad against the Infidel Christian, the ancient civilisation of Cyprus remains divided, its northern part Turkishly Muslim, its southern part converted to the norms of Mammon-worship which have replaced Christianity in the West. We hear little of the internals of either part of the island, so it might surprise people to learn that the President of the Greek part is a Communist who was brought up in the Soviet Union, speaks better Russian than Greek because his birthplace was in the Turkish north, and has a liking for Che Guevara T-shirts. The Turkish north in the meanwhile is ruled by Dervis Eroglu's so-called National Unity Party, a Turkish-supported, pro-separation party, so National Unity should not be misunderstood as the national unity of the whole of Cyprus, or only if the Turkish north is able to muster up the arms to fight and defeat and conquer the Greek south.

See also Akrotiri and Dhekelia, two nice little off-cuts of sirloin from the roast beef of Cyprus, which you have probably never heard of before coming to this book, and will not be be in the slightest bit surprised when you hear the why and what of them now.

Considering just how tiny an island it is - barely three and a half thousand square miles, which is half the size of Wales, or Israel, or Massachusetts - it has featured disproportionately largely in the annals of human history, though in truth it has done little but exist in the middle of the Mediterranean to merit our interest or attention. The Mycenaeans are associated with Cyprus, as are the Phoenicians, but both were peoples who came to the island, rather than from it. Pygmalion was a king of Cyprus, but actually he too was a foreigner by birth; from Tyre in the Lebanon. His story is worth telling though, if only because otherwise I will have no stories about Cyprus to tell.

According to the legend, he carved an ivory statue of a woman more beautiful than any living female, and fell in love with it in a manner that would today induce psychotherapy or a prison sentence rather than elevation to mythology and literature: he convinced himself, or at the very least pretended, that it was an actual woman, plied her with gifts, and treated her as though she was alive. When the "woman" failed to respond to his advances, Pygmalion considered suicide, but instead turned to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and asked her to find him a real woman who matched his statue. Aphrodite took the easy route, available to goddesses but not to mortals: she brought the statue to life. Pygmalion then married her, giving her the name Galatea, and produced at least one child with her, though the legends differ as to the gender of the child. 

What does this teach us about the human condition? What significant contribution does the invention of this legend make to the betterment of society and the raising of the standards of civilisation? That men prefer air-dolls and sexual fantasy to real women, because generally they (we) can't cope with real women? We already knew that. Hard to say what else, but George Bernard Shaw made a play out of it ("Pygmalion"), and Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison starred in a movie based on the play ("My Fair Lady"), and it remains the case today that in 'Ertford, 'Ereford and 'Ampshire 'urricanes 'ardly hever 'appen.

Unlike neighbouring Crete, which has several, and even Malta, which has one or two, not one other person of significance has ever come from Cyprus; not a poet or painter or writer or composer or philosopher; not even a failed politician or a finally-defeated military imperialist with megalomaniacal ambitions (every other country in Europe, without exception, has at least one of these - well, maybe not Liechtenstein and Monte Carlo, but every other). Or not until very modern times, when Cyprus can claim both Yusuf Islam (once better known as Cat Stevens) and Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (whoever he was!). And Asil Nadir of course, who built a textile empire in the UK, and then fled with all the money.

Marks For: 3 for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love; but only 3, and only just, since love clearly does not rule here, the green line of hatred running all the way from Morphou, through Nicosia, to Famagusta, patrolled by UN troops.

Marks Against: 2

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