My Messinia

Athena-Revista de Arte(1924-25)-Fernando Pessoa


In 1924  Fernando Pessoa along with the graphic artist Ruy Vaz founded the Art Journal called Athena. The publication was oriented towards new poetic agenda and it was pervaded with a specific meaning involving the culture of ancient Greece. In the editorial of the first number of Athena, Pessoa states that civilised men traced their spirit to Ancient Greece (No 1 October 1924) In His heteronyms’ essays often dwell on subjects directly related to the Greek philosophy, religion and aesthetics such as “the Ancient soul” by Alberto Cairo or “the Greek gods represent…” by Ricardo Reis, “the Hellenic religion” or “Orpheus”, “The theory of the Gods” by Antonio Mora ” Notes towards a Non-Aristotelian Aesthetic” by Alvaro de Campos

I will quote some parts of these essays in my own translation from the Spanish texts I found and not from its Portuguese original…IMG_5804

“Beaty, harmony and proportion were for the Greeks not intellectual concepts but rather intimate dispositions of their sensibility. That is why they were a people of aesthetes, seeking, demanding beauty every single one of them, in everything, always. That is why they have, with such violence, projected their sensibility over the world of the future, so much so that we are still subjects of this oppression”.

“…In yet another way, great art makes us experience sadness. It constantly points out our imperfection: either because, seeming to be perfect, it make stand out our imperfections; either because, not even being perfect, it is the greatest proof of the imperfection that we are.Due to  this fact the Greeks, human parents of art, were sad and childish people. And art, perhaps, is no more, in its supreme form, than the sad childhood of a future god, the human desolation of sensed immortality.

“The goal of the inferior art is to please, the gaol of the middle art is to elevate, the end of the superior art is to liberate. But the average art, if its main aim is to elevate it, it must also please as much as it can; and higher art, if its purpose is to liberate, it must also please and elevate, as much as possible […]. Elevating and freeing are not the same. When elevating ourselves, we feel superior to ourselves, because of the distance created from us. By freeing ourselves, we feel superior in ourselves, masters, and not emigrants, of us. Liberation is an inward elevation, as if we were growing instead of rising”.


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