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Osòr / Ossero

25 August 2024


9:30 p.m. start of the show in Osor main square, in front of the Church of St. Gaudentius - Osor 48, 51554 Osor

event language: Croatian

information: +386 30313488

thanks to: Grad Mali Lošinj, Dario Kučić, Zrinka Ettinger Starčić

At least two etymologies exist for Εύρώπη/Europa, one endogenous and the other foreign:

  • from the ancient Greek εύρύς “broad” + ώψ-ώπ-όπτ “eye, gaze, face”, to indicate the large eyes and/or broad face of the Phoenician princess from the myth, or metaphorically the vast horizons of the lands of the continent to the north of the Aegean Sea 
  • from the Phoenician 𐤏𐤓𐤁 'ereb “evening, sunset, west”, to indicate what in a Phoenician, therefore Syrian, Middle Eastern perspective, is “in the direction of the evening”. 

The partial connection of the former with that of Εύριπος/Euripe, the branch of the sea which separates Euboea and Boeotia and par excellence any other sea channel which separates two disjoined lands, takes you off guard, because if εύρύς stands for "wide", the Euripe is instead narrow, very narrow, so much so as to give the illusion of not even existing. 

The fact is that Εύριπος/Euripe is also the branch of the sea that separates (or unites?) the islands of Cres and Lussino, and if the etymology remains unresolved here too, the counter currents coming from the Kvarner and Kvarnerić, which surprise each other by flowing one over the other in the canal dug since time immemorial to promote the trade of amber and tin, makes one think of a continuous counterattack, a continuous displacement, a surprise. 

And it’s precisely as a surprise that another etymology arrives, that of Osòr/Ossero, the small town nestled near the channel on the Cherso side. Its ancient Greek name Άψωρος/Apsoros would in fact derive from Άψυρτος/Apsirtos, Medea's brother who, in an attempt to bring both his sister and the Golden Fleece home to Colchis, would have chased Jason and the Argonauts along the Danube, the Sava, the Ljubljanica and then overland to the Adriatic, surprising them right here (but here where? At the mouth of the Timavo? In the fjord of the Mirna/Quieto or of the Raša/Arsa? Or perhaps at the mouth of the Rječina/Eneo, where Rijeka/Rijeka will later be built?) ending up killed by Jason himself, who dismembered his body, throwing it into the sea with its various pieces becoming islands. These islands would be then called the Άψυρτιδες/ Apsirtidi and at their center is Άψωρος/Apsoros, Osòr.

“We’re trying to get to know as much as possible: there are streets, villas, public ba…” says Mitja, head archaeologist of the mission who is documenting the underground remains of Osòr before they are destroyed to allow the construction of new sewer pipes. His words though lose themselves in an exquisite, sweet music, coming from a small open window, with a child's voice singing verses that I’ve already heard: Idir ann is idir as/idir thuaìdh is idi theas/idir thiar is idir thoir/idir am is idir áit...

Suddenly I remember the Irish girl who bathed naked in the waters of the რიონ/Rioni with the eternal snows of the სვანეთი/Svaneti in the background: between north and between south/between east and between west/between inside and between outside/between space and  between time..