submitted by Jean Michaelides on 22.12.2006
From: Nicholas Laurantus
To: Hellenes &
Nicholas Laurantus visit to Greece in 1960 stirred up his already strong feeling of pride in his native country. He wanted Australians too, to share this enthusiasm, so he ordered the printing of 60,000 postcards with four scenes of the Acropolis on one side and this message on the other:
Dear Australian Friends,
I am a Greek Australian, and having just returned from my homeland after 50 years residence in Australia I thought it appropriate to send you these views of the glory that was Greece.
Just a greeting and a message from me and nothing more.
Modern Athens, of course, is one of Europe’s fairest and most entertaining cities, and Greece generally is a quaint and interesting country, mingling as it does many centuries of customs and traditions. Its people are known as good hosts and the climate about perfect, but it is the classical period that leaves one spellbound.
A remarkable age this, in all history.
The sacred rock of the Acropolis is the birthplace of human consciousness and beauty unsurpassed.
The Parthenon has been called the divine harmony in marble, which hands cannot copy, and words cannot describe.
For the sake of perfection not a straight line in the whole building, horizontal or vertical — instead we see what is known as the Parthenon famous curves.
And from those astonishing marbles the Athenian flame still radiates its art and culture to the world. Even the dark centuries that blighted Europe after the decline of Athens and Rome could not entirely extinguish this intellectual beacon of ancient Greece.
Renan the French Philosopher prayed on the Acropolis, then wrote:
‘The Greek miracle happened but once, neither before, nor since’.
Midgeon Station, Narrandera, N .S.W .
For Nicholas Laurantus, the Parthenon was one of the three best-designed structures in the world. The other two were the thirteen-spanned bridge at Livadi and the Church of St Mary Myrtiodissa, both on Kythera; his father had helped to build both.
Nicholas sent copies of his postcard to all the Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand with an accompanying letter, urging all their members to visit Greece. In return he received hundreds of replies, and this gratified him; the seed had not fallen on dry ground. From then on, he always carried a few copies in his breast pocket and handed them to those he thought would be interested, whether Greek or Australian. He was convinced that his little advertisement for Greece did promote tourism, that many people were inspired to travel there purely as the result of his postcard. In the years that followed he succeeded in distributing 30,000 copies.
Nicholas never forgot that he was a Kytheran. To him, a ‘trip overseas signified the Greek mainland and his island of Kythera, much as a ‘trip overseas’ for a British-Australian meant, usually, a visit to Britain. Other areas of the world held little interest as places to visit; he was not curious to see the forests of Scandinavia or the lakes of Switzerland or any of the cities of Europe that draw millions of tourists from other countries. He went only where he had a family tie, nowhere else.
Page 81-83, Jean Michaelides. Portrait of Uncle Nick. A Biography of Sir Nicholas Laurantus MBE. Sydney University Press, Sydney. 1987.
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