Greece: The Charta of Greece, 1797
Archive reference code and name of the respective archive: Collection of Engravings, n. 475
Creator: Rigas Feraios or Rigas Velestinlis (1757 - 1798)
Place of publication: Vienna
Content of the document:
It is the fourth page of the Charta of Greece, which contains the title of the Charta: "The Charta of Greece showing its islands and part of its numerous colonies in Europe and Asia Minor… firstly published by RIGAS VELESTINLIS of THESSALY, for the sake of Greeks and Philhellenes-1797".
The cartouche frames the map title, has highly elaborated decorations and includes mythological themes.
The Charta is in a book form and belongs to Type-A (1st edition), copies of which are fewer and older that those of Type-B (2nd edition). It consists of 12 folios joined into 6 bifolios and a separate 13th folio, sewn in four leather tapes. Brown leather has been used for the spine and the corners of the cover and hand-made decorative paper for the covering of the paper boards.
Paper: European, hand-made, laid, heavy weight, off-white colour, elephant size. Watermark: "…& I. HONIG", indicating a Dutch paper-mill.
Technique: Black and white engraving
Dimensions: 86 x 63 x 2,5 cm
Notes: Until now, 51 copies of the first edition of the Charta are known. The particularity of the GSA Charta is the supplementary folio of the Charta of Moldova. In 1997 and 1998, 200 years after its first publication, 17 known copies of the Charta were characterized historical monuments of the Greek Cultural Heritage.
On the feet of the female figure, the Odyssey of Homer is depicted with the following lines: «πολλών δ' ανθρώπων είδε άστεα και νόων έγνω» ("He saw the cities of many people and discovered their mentality").
On the lower part of the cartouche, three iconographical themes are represented. In the center, the struggle between Heracles and Hippolyte constitutes an allegory of the constant conflict between the West and the East and, in this case, the fight between the enslaved Greeks and the Ottomans. The wooden club of Heracles symbolises the strength of Greeks, while the double axe of the Amazon on the horseback is the symbol of the Asian despotism. The fact that the axe in the picture is broken could be associated with the revolutionary movement of Rigas, indicating the oncoming fall of the Ottoman Empire.
On the right hand side, the relief plate represents the myth of Deucalion and, on the left, the ship of Argo. The reference to the myth of Deucalion, the mythical founder of the Hellenic race, implies the Greek diaspora, while the ship of Argo symbolises the beginning of the Greek wanderings and the first spread of Greeks in the East.