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Hadrian and Greece meet again at Italy’s Villa Adriana

Over 50 masterpieces, many never exhibited in Italy before, will showcase starting Wednesday until November 2 at Tivoli's Villa Adriana the deep relationship between Emperor Hadrian and Greece, Athens in particular. The villa's Antiquarium del Canopo will host the important event organized to coincide with the European semesters of presidency of Greece and Italy in 2014. The show could be organized thanks to exceptional loans from museums in Athens, Loukou, Marathon, Piraeus and Corinth. Some of the extraordinary art on display had never left Greece before.

Hadrian and Greece meet again at Italy’s Villa Adriana
Canopus of Hadrian's Villa overlooking the Serapeum
[Credit: WikiCommons]
Presented to the press on Tuesday, 'Hadrian and Greece. Villa Adriana amid classicism and hellenism' was curated by Elena Calandra and Benedetta Adembri who have vied to show the constant cultural and political relation between the emperor and Athens with as background the splendid villa close to Rome.

''Hadrian studied there and went back for long periods of time as an adult'', said Calandra. ''Before the imperial crown he became archon and established himself in Athens during the last six years of his life, making it a sort of capital and base for trips to the East''.

He is a very important figure in Greece as well, where Hadrian is considered a great, visionary emperor who loved Athens and made it more beautiful with architectural masterpieces like the arch of Hadrian, library and aqueduct. It is no coincidence that the show benefitted from the cooperation with the Italian archaeology school in Athens and the Greek culture ministry's department of museums, shows and educational programs which brought to Tivoli art of great importance that will be on display alongside Villa Adriana's masterpieces.

The objective is to show the many centuries of culture of Hellas, the connection of the Roman emperor both with the classicism of Periclean age and Hellenism, which re-live in the structure, decorations and landscape of the famous archaeological site (a UNESCO world heritage site), 40 hectares which can be visited (while the entire area reached 120 hectares). Such a location vies to become more visible in Italy and abroad also through initiatives like this one, said Lazio regional cultural director Federica Galloni.

And while awaiting for maintenance work to attract new visitors - on average 200,000 a year so far -and more funding - ''we are working on a system like Pompeii'', said Galloni - the exhibit can be an occasion to highlight the location's value.

The show highlights the idea of Hellenism Hadrian had. The emperor took to that home the most representatives images of his beloved Athens. So Villa Adriana's Piazza d'Oro is conceived according to the project of the library built in the Greek capital while the caryatides copy those of the erechtheion in the acropolis and the canopo statues echo 5th century art.

Pieces sent from Greece for the exhibit include Corinthus' cariatides, Hadrian's head from Athens, statues of philosophers and the head of Herod Atticus - a rich land owner who was a friend of the emperor - women's portraits, and the beautiful Antinous from Patras.

Source: ANSA [April 08, 2014]

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