“The Withdrawn Sea” Urbanistic Paradigm of Mediterranean Cities: Role/Meaning/Function

Maahsen-Milan, Andreina (2012) “The Withdrawn Sea” Urbanistic Paradigm of Mediterranean Cities: Role/Meaning/Function. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/3570. In: Civiltà del mare e navigazioni interculturali: sponde d’Europa e l’ “isola” Trieste. A cura di: Ferrini, Cinzia ; Gefter Wondrich, Roberta ; Quazzolo, Paolo ; Zoppellari, Anna. Trieste, Italia: Edizioni Università di Trieste, pp. 126-145. ISBN 978-88-8303-458-9.
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The forces governing the “rights” and the conflicting interests of the earth and the sea in the relationship between gea and thalassa is an age-old conflict: a physical and literary topos mediated by a lingua franca, made of stone and of different civilizations. We are obviously talking about the Mediterranean city. Cosmogony and Hierophany, handed down in traditional and pre-modern cultures,show the intimate link between Cosmos and Chaos, whose intensity and permanence have permeated the lives, the customs and the visual and spatial experiences of Mediterranean populations3.In the Mediterranean, two cultures met and clashed. They had experienced the sea from vastly different perspectives due to their diverse approaches and mindsets. Even Hesiod, in The Theogony, recalls how Pèlagos, plaga (lat.), i.e. ‘water plane’, is an expanse “without sweet union of love”.“Sea”, where the deity appears as a terrifying threat to Man. The ancient Mediterranean sea gods show indifference, or even more often are hostile towards activities carried out on the sea or on its shores. At the height of its development and domination of maritime trade, the Greek-Mycenaean civilization venerated the cult of Poseidon [ποσειδῶν], numen of sea and horses. At first superior even to Zeus, he transformed himself into a god of conflict, having lost his primacy in the Cosmos. His resentful and wicked nature toward humans is revealed in outbreaks of chthonic elements and forces: his epithet was έ(ν)νοσίγαιος (“earth shaker”), cause of earthquakes and cataclysms. Although known by a different name in the Mediterranean, the god of the sea showed a common trait in his hot-tempered and greedy temperament, placated and satisfied only by sacrifices and festivals [Geroèstie] in his honour.

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Maahsen-Milan, Andreina
Mediterranean Cities; Naples; Triest; Genua;
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19 Jun 2013 10:21
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06 Aug 2013 09:40

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