Topographies of Hellenism: Mapping the Homeland

By Artemis Leontis | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION Mapping the Territory

In the present-day collectors' market, the value of old topographical materials--maps, travel books, drawings, paintings, engravings-- depends on the economic vitality of the country they depict: the stronger the economy, the higher the value of these items. The logic of the market follows familiar rules. Collectors exist in larger numbers in countries where economies are expanding enough to produce surplus capital. Collectors of maps, travel books, and engravings tend to invest in items representing their homeland. Hence the demand is greatest for topographical materials that register older layers of today's strongest national economics. The higher price of these items reflects the higher demand.

Greece presents a modest exception to the rule that a perennially ailing economy should hinder people from investing in nonessential items like old travel books, or from finding the leisure to discuss and enjoy them. Greeks are avid collectors of topographical items, particularly those that depict historical remnants of the Hellenic world. These representations also continue to interest collectors from other national groups. Topographies of Hellenism carry a relatively high price.

Perhaps the present-day demand for Greek topographies follows another rule, as inviolable as the rule of markets. Neohellenes, the unapparent heirs of the Hellenic past, continually seek to ascertain their origins. To this end, they are compelled to reinvest in a past shaped by the interests of several modern European states. European interests in Hellas accrued in the form of diplomacy, the disciplines of

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