September 11 2006
President Mohammad Khatami, head of the former reformist government of Iran, paid an official visit to the house of Olga M. Davidson at 82 Revere Street as the last stopping point of his tour of the United States before his flight back to Tehran. Agents from the U.S. State Department cordoned off a block of Revere Street for the motorcade that brought Khatami to Beacon Hill from Cambridge, where he was paying an official visit to Harvard University.
Earlier stopping points for Khatami included the National Cathedral in Washington and the United Nations in New York City. Mondayís occasion on Beacon Hill was an informal dialogue between U.S. and Iranian scholars and students. More than 70 guests attended the event, including three former ambassadors of earlier governments of Iran. Khatami gave a short speech on the need for dialogue between civilizations. He is head of his own institute in Geneva that promotes such dialogues, and he said in his speech that he hopes to maintain contact with Davidson, who is Chairman of the Board of the Ilex Foundation, which promotes the study of humanistic traditions that derive from the civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Near East, from the second millennium BCE to the present. Ilex had invited Khatami as a representative of those sectors of Iranian society that promote dialogues between civilizations.
Stressing the need to examine cultures on their own terms, the Ilex Foundation especially supports research that is language-based and text-based, Davidson explained. Points of special interest for comparison include models of classicism and the humanistic discourse of Islamic civilization.
Dr. Mohammad Mahallati translated the comments delivered by Khatami for the occasion in Persian: “The house of Dr. Davidson, which is a center for showing the art and beauty of Persian culture, is a noble manifestation of her vision. Visiting this house and meeting so many admirers of Iranian culture gave a beautiful closure to my visit in Massachusetts and in the United States. It was an unforgettable occasion.”
Translation of the inscription:
Olga Davidson is an informed, honorable, and magnanimous person, whose love for Iran has added even more to her virtues. Her house, which is a center for the art and beauty of Persian culture, is the manifestation of her vision. Visiting this house and meeting so many admirers of Iranian culture gave a beautiful closure to my visit in Massachusetts and in the United States. It was an unforgettable occasion. Also, it was a great honor for me to make the acquaintance of Professor Gregory Nagy, her knowledgeable husband.
For this great lady, for her husband, and for all lovers of Iranian culture, I wish health and success.