Portions of Christos Ziatas’ play were read at the Greek Community’s Plymankio Centre last Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The event was organized by Bill Fatsis in honour of Ziatas’ literary achievements and to introduce the community to Iphigenia.
Iphigenia is a dramatization of the myth of the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter at Aulis in order to get favourable winds for the Greek forces to cross the Aegean Sea to avenge the abduction of Helen Queen of Sparta by the Trojan prince Paris.
As most of you will recall, troops from the Greek city-states were gathered at Aulis in Euboea under the leadership of Agamemnon and the seer Kalchas told them that the gods needed a sacrifice in order to provide fair winds. Agamemnon created a ruse that Iphigenia was to come to Aulis to marry Achilles when in fact he intended to sacrifice her.
Well-known personalities from the Greek community read a large portion of the play in the well-attended function. Andonis Artemakis read the part of Odysseus, Tassos Michalopoulos was Agamemnon while Spyros Volonakis represented his brother Menelaus. George Zubulakis was the seer Kalchas while Kostas Klissouras read the part of the Elder and First Solier. Christina Houtri was Iphigenia and Konstantinos Bourikas read the part of Achilles. Stavroula Karnouskou read the part of the Voice of Casandra and Iphigenia’s companion.
Andreas Batakis doubled as the Narrator and the “common man” Thersitis.
The evening was hosted by Bill Fatsis who also participated in the production as the Second Soldier and read the choral poems.
Ziatas was born in the village of Chalara in the mountains of Kastoria and was taken to Romania while still in public school during the Civil War. He grew up there and attended the University of Bucharest where he studied literature. He came to Canada in 1975 and has lived here ever since. Except for visiting, he has never lived in Greece.
He refers to himself as the poet of overtime as a reflection of the 18 hours each day that he spends wrestling with words and writing. Since 1971 when he published his first volume of poetry he has produced some 40 books of poetry, plays and criticism.
Ziatas was given recognition and appreciation. What he needs and deserves is more readers to recognize and appreciate the results of his overtime wrestling with words, a match that never stops until the perfect word is found to describe the precise sentiment.