Outside the public Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill there stands a statue of the Goddess Minerva (the Roman name for Athena). It originally topped the Athenaeum (Library) before being taken down during WWII to be melted down for guns, fortunately the metal was found to be not of sufficient quality so it has survived until the present, a tantalising glimpse of a time when buildings were topped by classical personifications giving visible form to the ideals of the populace.
but our items of interest today come not from the end of the story but from the beginning around the time of it’s surprisingly controversial purchase and enstatement: both awash in the enigmatic though for diffrent reasons. The first being prehaps a case of sustained and incredibly subtle irony that is very hard to distingush from genuiness, the latter being so inherantly mysterious one can but wonder if even the corospondants knew what they were saying to each other.
THE GODDESS MINERYA.*
Southland Times , Issue 2463, 4 July 1876, Page 3
Which for it’s levity stands in stark contrast with this Angry Tirade from 6 days later, though both share an undercurrent of taking seriously what the errection of the idol represents.
these two mysterious letters come from 1879
Southland Times , Issue 3515, 26 September 1879, Page 3
Southland Times , Issue 3516, 27 September 1879, Page 3
A photo of minerva where she stands now, in front of the largest pyramid in the southern hemisphere.
*With thanks to the National Library of New Zealand.