Leonidas @ Sparta Place

Now Brunswick has a statue of King Leonidas of Sparta in Sparta Place off Sydney Road. The statue has been the subject of local controversy,  it is disliked by the local traders, and created as part of the junket politics of sister cities.

Petros Georgariou – King Leonidas 2009

Greek artist Petros Georgariou sculpted the bust of King Leonidas, in a retrograde and conservative nationalist-realist style. The modeling of the bust is crude and stiff. The statute’s black marble plinth, a material alien to the local area, makes it look like a tomb. Not content to leave the 2005 remodelling of Sparta Place alone, the statue has been erected right in the middle of the mall. The placement of the plinth and style of the statue clashes with the existing contemporary style statue in the mall, New Order by Louise Lavarack. There are a lot of things wrong with the statue but not as many as the things wrong with the politicians who commission it.

Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony argues that Sparta could not be understood before Stalin. “Lycurgus was the first to compose a world that excluded the world: Spartan society. He was the first person to conduct experiments on the body social, the true fore-father all modern rulers, even if they don’t have the impact of a Lenin or a Hitler, try to imitate.” Sparta always acted in their “national interest” and would kill and enslave to achieve this end.

Mayor Lambros Tapinos said the statue symbolized “the contribution of the Greek community and its vibrant history within our municipality”. Other local politicians, like Cr Ange Kenos, have also praised King Leonidas for his defense “of human rights.”  To dismiss these politicians as stupid and ignorant is to be generous or sympathetic to them, these are the kind of people who would help another Hitler and Stalin to power. I’m sure that as a politician Mayor Tapinos has learnt the highest rule of Sparta society: you can do anything; steal, rape and kill, just don’t get caught. Laconophilia may be popular but it is also amoral and delusional.

I have written about Coburg’s multiple sister city junket politics before in regards to the use of the arts: see Man of the Valley and Cross Currents @ Moreland Civic Centre.  I have been unimpressed with the artistic standard of these exchanges and I have seen no other evidence of any value to the City of Moreland’s three sister city relationships.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

11 responses to “Leonidas @ Sparta Place

  • barrybubba

    go the greeks and their crazy concreting ways

  • pbeekman

    Interesting comments – certainly there seems to be a bit of historical revisionism going on here if our councillors are praising the ancient Spartans for their human rights record! Their record with the treatment of the Helot peasant / slave class alone stands as testimony to some issues in that regard – whether judged by modern or even ancient standards, there were a cruel and uncompromising group in this respect. So what is there to glorify or redeem as a contemporary message from this ancient society? Toughness and brute power, perhaps. Apart from this, I can’t agree more – what an inappropriately unpleasant, unimaginative and conservative piece for contemporary Brunswick.

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  • Malcolm Shiel

    Modernity is disgusting. This is a beautiful work of art in the great European tradition. No wonder the Usual Suspects hate it.

  • Miltiadis Paikopoulos

    “Sparta could not be understood before Stalin”, what a dangerously false proposition you have repeated here. It is quite deceptive to claim that the past cannot be understood without comparing it to an arbitrary point in its future. To be a Laconophile is not something to be criticised, but rather something to be lauded. It is intellectually dishonest to condemn an idea purely on the failings of its followers, but rather you must also judge it on its own merits. In this, the Laconians and Laconophilia are vindicated thoroughly by scholarly research, not by the “pulp-history” of armchair historians and an increasingly narrow-minded academia. A rather rudimentary knowledge of Sparta’s history from its inception up until the present would prove its merits, but alas too many people fall victim to the predatory pseudo-intellectualism that brands Laconia as purely warlike and rapacious. A falsehood that is washed away simply by reading any of the many primary sources, from the time of Herodotus and Thucydides up till Plutarch and beyond. The statue is beautiful because it comes from that rare strain of independent thought and a dedication to truth that is rather lacking in the modern world, and clearly your article. Leonidas saved Hellenism, and thus the western world, to say anything else is unabashed revisionism.

    • Mark Holsworth

      You’re being very clever and ironic… am I right?
      Your final word ‘revisionism’, the same word that Stalin apologists call people who disagree with them used. And you claim that you can’t understand the past by comparing it to something else from another time… LOL.
      Attacking the academics but defending scholarly research was hilarious. But you saved the best for last, saving the western world, fantastic, I can almost hear Queen’s Theme for Flash Gordon playing in the background… he’ll save everyone of us.
      It is as camp as a row of Spartans.

    • Miltiadis Paikopoulos

      I don’t think that the word “revisionism” is owned by any one particular group of people as you might, but rather it is owned by its definition. I make the distinction once more, there is nothing entirely wrong if you were to understand the past with another point in time in mind, but it would be dubious to say the least if one were to understand the past purely through a selected time in its future. Attacking, to use your words, the contemporary academic class is quite different from entreating people to engage in their own reading of timeless scholarly research. On your last point I agree, I did save the best for last. For the Western World is indelibly linked to Laconia, alas that you can’t see that. I point you to works as varied as Xenophon, Cicero, Alexander Hamilton etc, but it’s up to you how far you go!

    • Mark Holsworth

      You’re serious! Oh dear, I am sorry.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Do you mean people engaging in their own “scholarly research” like flat earthers and anti-vaxers doing research? If it does then I’m sorry for all the people around you.

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