Joachim Sartorius / Translated by Stephen Brown

2,500 years ago, the city of Syracuse on the eastern coast of Sicily was, for the Ancient Greeks, one of the centres of the classical world. It was in Syracuse that Aeschylus premiered his plays, and to Syracuse that Plato would visit from Athens, where the tyrant Dionysius bought Euripides’s lyre at auction, and the languishing nymph Arethusa hid in the papyrus grove.

Living in the city, the poet Joachim Sartorius learned that this history and myth is still present today. At Sartorius’s side we walk with nymphs and cyclops through the old town of Ortigia, and meet the people of the city; its notables, police officers, artists, and barbers. Unravelling the depths of Sicilian history and bringing the juxtaposition, superimposition, and commingling of cultures, styles, and attitudes to life, Sartorius shows a city of ancient luminosity, bringing us, through the baroque, to the contemporary world.

JOACHIM SARTORIUS is a poet, translator, and cultural critic. He grew up in Tunis and spent twenty years in the German diplomatic service in New York, Istanbul, and Nicosia. He was secretary general of Goethe Institut until 2000, and from 2001-2011 he was director of the Berlin Festival. He is the author of My Cyprus and The Princes’ Islands.

STEPHEN BROWN is a playwright, translator, and cultural critic.

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