Friday, January 20, 2012

Giglio: Costa Concordia-Titanic Link

Off the Island of Giglio, on Friday, January 13, 2012, the cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground just off the shore. Most of the more than 4,200 passengers and crew were rescued and taken to the island, as well as to the mainland. At least 11 people died and 64 were injured, with 22 or more still missing.

In this blog's previous posting, several links were noted between the Costa Concordia's sinking of 2012, and the Titanic sinking of 1912.

A new item discovered links to the name Giglio and deserves to be unfolded in this examination here.
Isola del Giglio or Giglio Island is an island and Italian comune situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Tuscany, part of the Province of Grosseto. The island is one of seven that form the Tuscan Archipelago. Giglio means "lily" in Italian, and though the name would appear consistent with the insignia of Medici Florence, it derives from Aegilium, "Goat Island," a Latin transliteration of the Greek word for "little goat" (Aigýllion).
The name Giglio has a direct and significance connection to the Titanic, which is visibly and historically right in front of our eyes, literally, as played out in the reality and fictionalized versions of that disaster.

In chronicles of the 1912 tragedy, it is generally agreed that the most famous victim of the sinking of the Titanic was Benjamin Guggenheim (1865-1912). Benjamin Guggenheim, who lived in New York City and kept an apartment in Paris, was the fifth of seven sons of the wealthy mining magnate Meyer Guggenheim (1828–1905) and Barbara Myers (1834–1900). 

Today, the name "Guggenheim" is well-known due to the art museum named after Benjamin's brother, Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-1949), and the art collection donated to it by Benjamin's daughter, Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim (1898–1979). The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, founded in New York City, was designed by Frank Lloyd WrightThe building has become a cultural icon and can be seen widely throughout popular culture. It is featured in Matthew Barney's The Cremaster CycleBye Bye BirdieMen in BlackWhen in RomeDowntown 81Ugly Betty and prominently in The International, where a major shootout occurs in the museum. In fact, a life-size replica of the museum was built for The International's scene.
Benjamin Guggenheim's valet was named Victor Giglio (1888-1912), and therein the name game linking the Titanic and the Costa Concordia comes clearly into focus.

Guggenheim (pictured) boarded the RMS Titanic and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Madame Léontine Aubart (1887–1964); his valet, Giglio; his chauffeur, René Pernot (1872–1912); and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser (1887–1964). His ticket was number 17593 and cost £79 4s (other sources give the price as £56 18s 7d). He and Giglio occupied stateroom cabin B82 while Aubart and Sägesser occupied cabin B35. Pernot occupied an unknown cabin in second class.

Madame Aubart

Guggenheim and Giglio slept through the Titanic's encounter with the iceberg only to be awakened just after midnight ship's time by Aubart and Sägesser, who had felt the collision.

Sägesser later quoted Giglio as saying, "Never mind, icebergs! What is an iceberg?"

Guggenheim was persuaded to awaken and dress; Bedroom Steward Henry Samuel Etches helped him on with a lifebelt and a heavy sweater before sending him, Giglio, and the two ladies up to the Boat Deck.

As Aubart and Sägesser reluctantly entered Lifeboat No. 9, Guggenheim spoke to the maid in German, saying, "We will soon see each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again."

Realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had implied, as well as realizing he was not going to be rescued, he then returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. The two were seen heading into the Grand staircase closing the door behind them. He was heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen."

He also gave a survivor a message saying, "Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward." 
Titanic's actual Grand Staircase, above.
Guggenheim and Giglio were last seen seated in deck chairs in the Staircase sipping brandy and smoking cigars. Both men went down with the ship. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified. Guggenheim's chauffeur, René Pernot, was also lost in the disaster.
Chris Cragnotti's role of Victor Giglio in Titanic was uncredited. 
The actor Michael Ensign plays Guggenheim and Chris Cragnotti plays Giglio in 1997's Titanic; they are shown drinking brandies, seated in chairs on the Grand Staircase as the flooding consumes the ship. Guggenheim and often Giglio are depicted in films about the Titanic in grand style, going down with the ship. 
What do we know about the real-life Giglio? The notes on victim Victor Giglio at the Encyclopedia Titanica give the known summary:
Mr Victor Gaeton A. Giglio was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England in 1888/89. He was probably of Italian extraction. Giglio was valet to Mr Benjamin Guggenheim they embarked the Titanic at Cherbourg (ticket number17593). Mr Guggenheim and Mr Giglio occupied cabin B-84. Mr Guggenheim's French chauffeur Mr Rene Pernot travelled second class. Shortly before the Titanic went down Giglio returned to his room and changed into his finest evening wear, his master, Mr Guggenheim did likewise. Mr Giglio, Mr Pernot and Mr Guggenheim were all lost in the sinking.
The Guggenheim family believed he was an Egyptian.
The assistant steward in the first cabin of the Titanic, James Etches, directly recounted to the Guggenheim family Benjamin Guggenheim's and Victor Giglio's last moment (see here). Etches thought Giglio was Armenian.

Giglio? Was he Italian, Egyptian, Armenian? The origins of the name, nevertheless, appear to be Italian.

Should we be surprised the Costa Concordia shipwrecked at Giglio Island?


aferrismoon said...

Some info on the ship , might be of interest


Julian said...

There are big problems with another "concordia"--the European Union could soon crash--just like the French-British "Concord" did