TEHRAN - National Museum of Iran is playing host to the exhibition of "A Statue for Peace: The Penelope Sculptures, From Persepolis to Rome", which features four statutes of Penelope from the collections of the National Museum of Iran and two European museums.
Of the four statues on display, two belong to the Vatican Museum, one to the Capitoline Museum in Rome, and one to the National Museum of Iran.
One of the statues, made of Greek marble and representing a seated woman, was discovered during archaeological excavations at Persepolis in 1936 by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. This statue was a diplomatic gift from Greece to the Achaemenid Court.
The exhibition was opened during a ceremony attended by several Iranian and Italian officials on Monday evening.
"We have witnessed destroying of cultural heritage in many countries as symbols of civilizations and I appreciate Iran over preservation of cultural heritage," Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini said during the event.
The sculptures, which feature faithful wife of Odysseus Penelope who waits twenty years for the final return of her husband Trojan War, symbolize peace, Italian ambassador to Tehran Mauro Conciatori said during the ceremony.
Mohammad-Hassan Talebian, an official at the Iran's cultural heritage organization said the exhibition opens up a new chapter in Iran-Italy relationship
Iran, Italy and Greece are the most ancient civilizations of the world, which have played a crucial role in the formation of human identity throughout the history, Talebian remarked.
Iran's Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) chief Mohammad Beheshti said Penelope is one of the best choices to connect Persian and Western civilizations.
There is much in common between these three civilizations, which can be discussed during future gatherings and exhibitions, Beheshti said.
The exhibition is held by the National Museum to familiarize the public with the cultural interaction between Iran and the West.
All the statues show Penelope as a grieving and pensive woman who seems to be yearning for her lost husband, Odysseus.
The exhibition also include a series of lithographic images by Marc Chagall, depicting scenes of the Odyssey, Homer's epic of the legendary hero Ulysses, and his 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War.
During the ceremony, a performance entitled "Penelope" written and directed by Ardeshir Salehpur was performed.
The exhibition opened on September 28 and the statues will remain on view through December 31.
According to Britannica, Penelope in Greek mythology is a daughter of Icarius of Sparta and the nymph Periboea and wife of the hero Odysseus.
Homer's Odyssey tells the story of how, during her husband's long absence after the Trojan War, many chieftains of Ithaca and nearby islands become her suitors. To spare herself their importunities she insists that they wait until she has woven a shroud for Laertes, father of Odysseus.
Every night for three years, until one of her maids reveals the secret, she unravels the piece that she has woven by day so that she will not have to give up hope for the return of her beloved husband and remarry. When at length Odysseus does return, she makes him prove his identity and finally accepts him.
Homer's account has remained the dominant one. In the ancient world there were variant stories. In one of them, Telegonus, son of Odysseus and Circe, sets forth to find his father but mistakenly kills him. Telegonus returns to his mother's island with Penelope, whom he marries, and Telemachus, who marries Circe. Telegonus and Penelope have one son, Italus, the eponymous hero of Italy.
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