NEW YORK – This year, the 13th Annual New York City Greek Film Festival (NYCGFF) was dedicated to Alexander the Great and featured a digital exhibition on the rare manuscript commissioned by Alexios III Megas Komnenos of Trebizond in the 12th century on the life of the legendary military commander and conqueror of the then-known world. The manuscript held by the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice includes 250 illuminations illustrating the life of Alexander from his birth in Pella to his death at the age of 33 in 356 BC.
On October 18, the NYCGFF in association with the Pan Macedonian Association USA, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, and the Treasury, NYC, presented a lecture by Professor Flora Karagianni on The Legend of Alexander the Great from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine Oecoumene (World).
Event organizer Nektarios S. Antoniou, Founding Director and Curator, the Treasury, NYC, gave the welcoming remarks thanking NYCGFF Managing and Artistic Director Maria Tzompanaki for her efforts, and then acknowledging all those present for their interest and support. Antoniou noted that Deacon Spyridon from Halki was representing His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros who unfortunately could not attend the lecture due to other commitments. Also among those in attendance was Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Cultural Attache Evelyn Kanellea, Dr. Charalampos Chotzakoglou, Stavros Kamilaris, Aris and Marilena Christodoulou, Jeannie Kouros, and many members of the community.
Prof. Karagianni has studied History and Archaeology in the Department of History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she continued her postgraduate studies on Byzantine Archaeology and Art. Later on, she received a diploma in Theology from the Theological School of the same university. Since 1995, she has been working in the Ministry of Culture, whereas she has taught courses on Byzantine Art and Archaeology at the International Hellenic University, the University of Thessaly, the Technological Institute of Larissa, and at the School of Guides. Her academic interests include topics in the field of architecture, art, and iconography. She has written two books, edited nine others, participated in many international and Hellenic conferences, published more than 40 studies, and has given lectures in Greece and abroad on Byzantine archaeology and art. She has particularly undertaken the scientific organization of conferences and exhibitions for several Byzantinological topics in Greece and abroad. Since March 2017, she has been appointed as Ephor to the Patriarchal Foundation for Patristic Studies, where she recently organized the exhibition, Our Sacred Beauty: Byzantine Icons from Thessaloniki.
Prof. Karagianni’s lecture recounted the fascinating life of Alexander the Great and how his story captivated and continues to captivate the world, inspiring artists and authors centuries after his death. The manuscript in the digital exhibition is just one of many examples from the Byzantine era which showed how far-reaching Alexander’s influence was throughout the known world from East to West, transcending language, culture and even religion to highlight Hellenistic ideals and values that Alexander spread throughout his journey and his short life.
Prof. Karagianni also spoke about the summer school program which brings scholars from around the world to Thessaloniki and Cyprus for Byzantine studies. Finding the tomb of Alexander, she noted would be the find of the century, or rather centuries.
A lively Q&A session followed Prof. Karagianni’s informative lecture which added further insight into the legacy of Alexander the Great.