Mistaken I-deity

I first met Capitano twenty years ago. It was on Thasos, a large island at the northern end of the Aegean,  off the coast of Macedonia, on our first family holiday — ie me and Mrs P with a toddler in tow.

We stayed in a village overlooking Limenaria Bay on the south coast. It has surely changed since then, but at the time it was a working village with just the odd tourist apartment.

Ours was owned by Cristos, a local entrepreneur who we saw most days dressed in his blue overalls. It was a small block on the edge of the village and we were on the uppermost of its two floors overlooking the large garden that lead directly out onto the beach of beautiful soft sand.

The local shops were small and unsophisticated. We bought our food supplies from a small family run business whose counter was a trestle table covered with a blanket. The owner was inordinately proud of the electronic till he had just installed, but always double checked its calculations using a pencil and scrap paper.

He didn’t have much English, like most of the locals, and I had even less Greek, but we had conversations of sorts. When I was there with my daughter in my arms, he made a fuss of her saying, “Papa’s photo,” meaning that she was the image of me, poor girl.

There was always fresh fish caught locally and the baker’s shop had batches of fresh bread twice a day, as well as gooey honey cakes and other sweetmeats, and slices of homemade pizza which were delicious. The best pizzas I ever ate were on holidays in Greece.

Which brings me back to Capitano. I’d gone into the village to buy some treats from the bakery one evening and called in to the lone tourist trap, a souvenir shop selling all sorts of keepsakes, including museum replicas.

I was taken with the bust above and asked the owner who he was. He didn’t have the words to explain precisely, but pointed out of the window to the sun setting on the sea saying, “Capitano”. The penny dropped that this was Poseidon, brother of Zeus and god of sea, storms and earthquakes.

I parted with my drachmas and Capitano was packed into a cardboard box tied up with string and I made my way back across the soft sand to our apartment, the string cutting into my fingers such was its weight. There is a photo in the family album of me and Capitano that evening, him looking stern as ever and me with a smile like the cat with the cream.

Capitano had the indignity of being stuffed with dirty socks and underwear and packed in a bag with other dirty washing to keep him safe on the journey home and he arrived intact and has been one of the family ever since.

The reason for writing about him now is that I feared he was a case of mistaken i-deity. My son was trawling through a website on Greek mythology when he came across a photo of Capitano, except this one said he was Coeus,  son of Ouranos and Gaia and Titan of Intellect and Pillar of the North.

Surprised, I did some searching myself that seemed to confirm this finding. Indeed, there is a Coeus Society which uses Capitano as their logo. You need to have an IQ of 160+ to join and they describe themselves as:

Coeus’s existence is not based on the individual’s internal narcissistic need of belonging to an exclusive group, but the objective of Coeus is to gather the most highly talented men and women in the world to work together to create some form of direct change in everyday life, to get these geniuses to drop their mental reins and share their theories to the world.

Which is all very laudable, except that they are wrong, about Capitano at least. The bust I own is copied from the statue of Poseidon to be found in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Cast in bronze, it dates to 460BC and was fittingly found by fishermen in their nets in 1928 off the coast of Cape Artemision in North Euboea.

I’ve no idea how the Coeus Society got it wrong, chosing an iconic god for their titan. It is as if some future Cheryl Cole Society of Unintelligence were to represent themselves with an image of Katie Price.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

1 comment… Add yours
  • Bob Brague 12th October 2010

    All those Greek gods carved in stone with long curly beards look alike to me. And their torsos remind me of myself, of course.

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