THE UNVEILING OF THE STATUE OF Mr. AVEROFF
by Charalambos Anninos (August 1896)
In This page we resite Mr. TIMOLEON J. PHILEMON writing in its entirety. We hightlight
in blue key points for the viewers who
THE UNVEILING OF THE STATUE OF Mr. AVEROFF
The name of the great fellow national benefactor, resident in Alexandria, has been since
long ago respected in Greece as being connected with innumerable works of benevolence.
The pricely generosity of this highly honoured man is attested by the building of the Millitary Academy,
erected completely at his expense, the Ephebion, and so many other constructions.
His great donation for the reconstruction of the Panathenian stadium increased the enthusiasm
and his name became most popular with the populace.
The Committee of the Olympic Games most correctly interpreted the universal wish of the public
that the national gratitude be expressed by a superb statue to the great donor and national
benefactor.It decided to erect a statue to Averoff through sums collected from throughout Greece.
The statue which was sculpted with great success by the distinguished sculptor G. Vroutos,
from Pentelic marble in natural size, depicts the donor of the Stadium, erect in a modest stance.
After many discussions it was decided that it should be erected outside the entrance too the stadium,
on the right of the entrance, on a simple base. The unveiling took place on the eve of the ceremonies
of the Olympic Games, with due pomp.
The day of the unveiling was fixed for March 24th, Easter Sunday, the eve of the start of the Olympic
Games. From early morn the crowds started to foregather from all directions towards the stadium,
by foot or conveyance, so that long before the appointed hour, in spite of the fact that
the weather showed an unfavourable disposition, and Easter Sunday had dawned cloudy with a
tendency towards rain. The place before the stadium had been levelled and beautified while
the bridge leading to it had been widened by six metres and on each side by wooden passageways
for the facilitation of the traffic. A company of infrantry had been drawn up and order was kept
by the police organs and in addition by the guards of the Stadium wearing a special uniform,
with a tunic of dark cherry colour, black trousers and a while helmet. All the guilds of the City
cam with full membership, bearing their standards and preceded by bands; then came the official
guests, the cabinet, the members of the parliament, the officials of the City, the official
foreign visitors with special missions for the Games, the members of the Council for the Games,
the International Committee, and members of the various committees, the foreign athletes, etc.
The sight is resplendant, the crowd grows thicker and thicker and beyond the emplacement and
on the heights above, notwithstanding that the rain starts to fall and becomes heavy, no one leaves,
but everyone keeps his place, trying to protect himself through the countless rising umbrellas.
After the arrival of the Crown Prince and the Princes George and Nicholas around 11 a.m.,
the Secretary General of the Council, Mr. Timoleon Philemon, hatless and drenched by the
rain recites the panegyric laudation praising the importance of the work, by eloquent phrases.
Enthusiastic shouts drowned the end the end of the eloquent words of the orator,
while the band plays a special composition dedicated to Averoff. Silence, however,
is immediately restored; H.R.H. Crown Prince Constantine, standing with the other princes
in front of the statue, makes the following speech:
It is due to the well known act of generocity of the great patriot George Averoff that
the renovation of the Panathenian stadium is due, a work which gives a national character
to the revived Olympic Games.
George Averoff is worthy of national gratitude for all that he has donefor his country,
and being sure that I am complying with the national wish I decided that this statue
should be established by moneys coming from a collection from all Greeks.
I wish that the great patriot may live long, to the good of his country and
I consider myself happy that as an act of honour I unveil the statue.
Pronouncing this last words the Crown Prince pulled the ribbon.
The blue and white Greek flag covering the statue falls and the genuine from the noble son
of Epirus becomes visible. This marble resemblance with the extended right arm seems to say:
The work has been completed; come people of Greece to the Stadium dedicated to the rivalry of
noble physical Games;
you will acquire together with physical strength the moral fortitude of glorious ancient Greece
The crowds are deeply move. The rain falls in torrents but no one takes any notice of it.
Finally emotion bursts into a ten thousand mouthed cheer on behalf of the Crown Prince,
on behalf of Averoff, on behalf of the nation. Eys are wetted, hats are raised and a strong
breath of emotion moves all those thousands of spectators.
Mr. P. Valaoritis, president of the Philharmonic Society of Athens, of which Averoff is a benefactor,
then advances, and places on the base of the statue a wreath bearing the inscription:
"To the great benefactor of the Nation" and makes a short speech.
Yet the interest and emotion of those present is raised to the highest degree by the action
of the Hungarian athletes. Their leader, Mr. K´em´emy, advances towards the statue, holding
the great wreath of laurel, brought for this purpose, with blue and white ribbons,
and lays it on behalf of the Hungarian athletes.
The Crown Prince and the Princes, after congratulating Mr. K´em´emy and his fellow national
athletes depart to the sounds of the hearty cheers and the populace starts to disperse,
while the rain continues to fall in torrents.
Thus this dignified ceremony which the Crown Prince announced to Averoff by a telegram, came to an end.
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