Mai 06 2013
The ECB’s new “Europa” version of the 5 Euro note, released last week, includes some pretty curious changes. The obverse is almost the same. The numerals “5” got stirred around a bit, and while the old note said “EURO” in two languages, there are now three – and where the old bills indicated ECB in five languages we now have nine. This and other smaller changes are just boring. But…
The reverse of the note is the intriguing thing. The four most notable alterations that I find are sly, but profound.
- Europe is smaller. Look at that. Poor old Europe is shrinking away.
- Moreover, Europe has moved to the left. I say again, in case you missed that… Europe has moved to the left. Probably everyone is saddened by Europe’s contraction, but I expect that opinions will be split on this repositioning. Old bill: leaning to center-right… new bill: clearly left.
- Look at the bridge, which as I recall was chosen years ago to symbolize the link(s) between the various nations. We now see that bridge from a new angle… yes, we now have a new perspective on that linking thing, don’t we? Our viewpoint – somebody’s point of view… somebody at the ECB, anyway – has shifted subtly in the way they look at “The Bridge” and the way Europe is bound together. The ECB has changed the position from which it views the connectors that join the Union.
- Hold the note up to the light, and here’s something new… the ghostly image of a sad young woman materializes from out of the misty fabric. Who is this mysterious and ephemeral specter? She is unidentified on the note, but the pensive tilt of her head and morose (even austere?) resignation in her expression tell me that she’s thinking about something that she doesn’t want to talk about. In fact, she is Europa, of Classical Mythology – adapted from a depiction on an ancient Greek (South Italian) ceramic vessel in the Louvre. Her melancholy nature is easy to understand, actually. Woeful Europa was deceived by Zeus (disguised as a bull) and kidnapped by him, borne away over the waves from her home in Phoenicia to Crete, where her powerful captor then raped her and forced her to remain. Well, there’s an uplifting story to recall and put on the money! The abduction/rape of Europa is a common theme in art (classical and even, yes, European), and any number of less tragic looking compositions could have been worked up into the watermark (and hologram, on the obverse). Why choose one that emphasizes her great despondency and suffering? Just look at the poor girl. Do we really need another reminder of how unhappy things are?
So let’s summarize the graphic message from the ECB: Europe is contracting and sliding to the left, the links that join it together are still there, but look different to the ECB than they used to (how menacing does that sound?), and Europe itself, we are reminded, has a heritage of being ravaged by somebody at the top.
Personally, I suspect that the ravaging comes from more than one direction – a veritable Pantheon of ravaging forces… but ominously, the new and prophetic instrument in hand does say “ECB” nine times!