Monday, January 5, 2009

Independent Magna Graecia – Southern Italy- Ausonia Flag Proposal

Southern Italy or as it should be known as, the historical region of Magna Graecia or ‘Greater Greece’, has always followed a distinctly different path then the north. Italiotes and Siceliotes formed the Hellenic speaking population of Southern Italy and Sicily. Ancient Hellenic city-states controlled most of the ancient landscape of the region until the coming union with the Roman Empire. A union with the northern region of the peninsula that lasted until Eastern Roman (Byzantine) control of the southern part of the peninsula, which reinforced Hellenism to its semide-Hellenized population.

The lasting imprint of the original Hellenic culture of Magna Graecia can still be fled throughout the peninsula and its history. The Old Italic alphabet and hence the Latin alphabet were variations based of the regions Hellenic alphabet. Many of the ancient Hellenic City-states survive to this day like, Neapolis (Naples), Taras (Taranto) and Ankon (Ancona).

During the Middle Ages, Magna Graecia would see a new explosion of Hellenic colonization as Eastern Roman Hellenic speaking people fled Hellas proper and Anatolia to come to Southern Italy. A process that only strengthen the bonds of Magna Graecia with Hellas proper. Although through the years many Italiotes and Siceliotes have become Italianized and no longer speak their original Hellenic dialect. There are still those who still to this day speak the indigenous Hellenic dialect of the region known as Griko. Griko still exists today mostly in Calabria and Salento.

Magna Graecia today is wildly known by the term ‘Mezzogiorno’, which includes Magna Graecia and Sardegna. The term which is associated with thoughts of poverty, crime, illiteracy, and other kinds of negative stereotypes towards Italianized Italiotes and Siceliotes comes from the very ‘Northern Italians’ that created the modern Italian nation-state like Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Divide that has always exist between the Northern and Southern parts of the peninsula are not only historical differences. They are also economic ones that were put in place during the creation of the modern Italian state and have been kept that way ever since. Before unification of the peninsula, the independent South was economically stable and prosperous. It is not until the unification takes place that the north emergence as the wealthier of the regions of Italy. A logical outcome seeing that those pushing for unification all hailed from the North. One could argue that it was not a unification that took place, but rather an invasion and occupation by the North forced upon Magna Graecia that resulted in the colonization of the South for the benefit of the North.

Today, like in Northern Italy, so does the South have its own political aspirations of independence from the central government in Rome. On one side of the coin you have Lega Nord and its goal to create an independent Padania state in Northern Italy. On the other side you have Lega Sud Ausonia and its dream to establish an independent Ausonia in Southern Italy. Lega Sud is not the only political party with such dreams, it is however, the only one to actually name the state they wish to create. A name that one must take a closer look at. What is Ausonia? The name is Hellenic for the region in Magna Graecia where the Ausones, an ancient tribe lived. Legend holds it or at least as Diodorus Siculus records, the King of the Ausones was Ausonus, the Son of Odysseus, the famous ancient Hellenic hero.

Whether Italiote, Siceliote or Ausone the concept is all the same and its connection to Hellenism is undeniable. It is with this in mind I’ve decided to present a flag for an Independent Magna Graecia – Southern Italy- Ausonia state. A real indigenous symbol of the region, compared to the modern flag of Italy with its Napoleonic origins.

The flag proposal consits of using the tricolour design of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies according to Steenbergen Book (1862). Located in the flag’s center is the Sicilian national symbol known as the Trinacria, which is a variation of the Hellenic Triskelion symbol. The Medusa head centered in the Triskelion implies the protection of the Hellenic Goddess Athena, which is commonly found on the Sicilian version. On the top and bottom parts of the flag a white Meander pattern is found. The Meander is a commonly found in ancient Hellenic art and was even found on the Shield of Philip II of Macedon.