Eva Palmer SikelianosA Life in Ruins

Eva Palmer SikelianosA Life in Ruins

Artemis Leontis

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780691171722

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Abstract

This is the first biography to tell the fascinating story of Eva Palmer Sikelianos (1874–1952), an American actor, director, composer, and weaver best known for reviving the Delphic Festivals. Yet, as this book reveals, Eva's most spectacular performance was her daily revival of ancient Greek life. For almost half a century, dressed in handmade Greek tunics and sandals, she sought to make modern life freer and more beautiful through a creative engagement with the ancients. Along the way, she crossed paths with other seminal modern artists. Eva was a wealthy New York debutante who studied Greek at Bryn Mawr College before turning her back on conventional society to live a lesbian life in Paris. She later followed Raymond Duncan (brother of Isadora) and his wife to Greece and married the Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos in 1907. With single-minded purpose, Eva recreated ancient art forms, staging Greek tragedy with her own choreography, costumes, and even music. Having exhausted her inheritance, she returned to the United States in 1933, was blacklisted for criticizing American imperialism during the Cold War, and was barred from returning to Greece until just before her death. This biography vividly recreates the unforgettable story of a remarkable nonconformist whom one contemporary described as “the only ancient Greek I ever knew.”