The rich and inexhaustible filthiness
Posted by: Maria Atalanti
Published on: 03/10/2023Back to Blog
Attention is drawn to the employee responsible on Bethlehem Street, about the cleanliness of the rich and inexhaustible filthiness and impurity prevail, constantly disturbed by the pigs, emitting unbearable filth.”
“The Greek Drama Company, returning from Ktema, intends to give two more performances – tonight and tomorrow – after which it departs for Larnaca and Nicosia. It is hoped that the audience will attend both of these final performances.”
“Salpigs Newspaper, March 3, 1890”
Two small pieces of news from the Salpigs newspaper in 1890. Two small daily events that give us two aspects of the life of the people of Cyprus in 1890. The image created in our minds by the first piece of news, “the rich and inexhaustible pollution and impurity, constantly disturbed by the pigs,” is terrifying. The street referred to as “Bethlehem” must have been in Limassol (or Lemessos), as it is called in the newspapers of the time because this newspaper was published in Limassol. This, of course, does not matter because similar scenes would have been observed in all cities since it seems that animals, especially pigs, were being raised in people’s homes.
Another element that emerges from this news is that there were sanitation workers who were under the local municipalities. According to the Great Cypriot Encyclopedia, during the Ottoman rule and after 1856, some regional autonomy had started to be granted to deal with issues such as hygiene, sewage, urban planning, etc., through the creation of local councils. However, it was in a very rudimentary state. During British rule (which began in 1878), the first and significant law regarding the operation of municipalities was signed on April 29, 1882. This was just a few years before the above news. It was then that the first municipalities in Cyprus began to be created and organized.
The second piece of news mentions a theater company that came from Greece and toured all the cities, performing plays. It would have been a significant event for every city to organize theatrical performances. There were almost no entertainment and educational events, and these performances were oases for the residents, at least in the cities. For the countryside, such a matter did not arise. However, even for the city residents, it would have been very difficult to attend these performances simply because they could not afford the required tickets.
Furthermore, a performance served as a source of education because most people were illiterate and could not be educated in any other way. So, we could say that the impromptu performances by traveling theater companies of the time, served the same purpose as tragedies and comedies in ancient Greece—for the enjoyment and education of citizens!
The small window into the 19th century is closing. I hope you enjoyed and found this journey enlightening.
Have a great day!