On June 2 our Society, together with the City of Nemea, paid tribute to Theodore Papalexopoulos for his many years of support of our efforts and of Nemea in general. Specifically, Mr. Papalexopoulos founded the Association “Opheltes – the Friend of Nemea” in 2004 and served as its president until last September (ph.1). The stated purpose of “Opheltes” is “to promote the cultural heritage of the archaeological site at Nemea
The physical manifestation of the Papalexopoulos tribute consists of the erection of the “Opheltes Column” at the entrance to the town of Ancient Nemea (ph.2). The octagonal column and capital are modeled on ancient examples discovered in the excavations of Nemea and now on display in the museum. So too is the original bronze statuette which served as the prototype for the Opheltes who sits on top of the column. And three inscriptions of the 6th century B.C., which are also on display, provided the forms of the letters for the inscription on the front of the column.
This is to be read from the top to the bottom (left to right) in the first line, but the second reverses the order of the letters to read from right to left in a style called boustrophedon (“as the ox ploughs”) which is documented by inscriptions of the 6th century from Kleonai. The forms of the letters are taken from inscriptions from Nemea and the ancient city of Phlious to the west. Thus the whole of the letters are those used in the area of the modern city of Nemea 2,600 years ago. They state that the column marks “The Square of Theodore Papalexopoulos , First President of the Association Opheltes”. (This information is also given in Modern Greek and English on the back of the column.)
The ceremonies included remarks by Pelopidas Kallires, General Secretary of the Ministry of Health, who was representing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Also in attendance were former Minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis, MP for Korinthia Christos Dimas, former MP for the Argolid George Tsournos, Vice-Governor or the Peloponnesos Apostolos Papafotiou, the Ambassadors of Cuba and Japan to Greece Osvaldo Cobacho and Hiroshi Toda respectively, the President of the “Citizens Movement for an Open Society Professor Stephanos Geroulanos, and the new President of Opheltes, Vasilis Fourlis.
Following the proclamation of Theodore Papalexopoulos as an Honorary Citizen of Nemea, Mayor Evangelos Andrianakos said, among other things, “I want to express my pleasure and satisfaction because the City of Nemea, in co-operation with the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games, today fulfills its obligation toward a man who has done so much for Nemea. And this has a special significance because it occurs at a time when the Hellenic Community has a great need of shining examples and positive precedents, like Mr. Theodore Papalexopoulos, who is set apart by his character and quality, by his clear thought and speech . . . . We have an enormous obligation to our country and to Mr. Papalexopoulos to continue and build upon his vision and his achievements something that will guarantee both our hopes as well as the presence and positions of the new President of “Opheltes”, Mr. Vasilis Fourlis.”