Stratis Myrivilis

mirivilis1

Writer (1890 – 1969)

Stratis Myrivilis’ true name was Eustratios Stamatopoulos. He was one of the most important representatives of the Generation of the 30’s, a generation of writers, artists and scholars who flourished during the first half of the 20th century. Myrivilis belongs to the generation of Greeks who lived all the major wars fought by Greece, developed a deep patriotic esteem and made Greece reach an internationally recognised level in literature.

He participated as a volunteer in the 1st and 2nd Balkan Wars, where he was injured. Later, he fought in the 1st World War and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. He settled in Athens and worked in a number of newspapers, radio stations and as a librarian in the Greek Parliament. He founded the National Society of Literary Writers of Greece as well as the Greek Society of Literary Writers.

Myrivilis was primarily noted for his novels and short stories. His first novel, Ζωὴ ἐν Τάφῳ (Life in Tomb) in 1924, was written during the Balkan Wars and was about the atrocities of war, which Myrivilis had personally experienced. It was followed with The Schoolmistress with the Golden Eyes in 1933, which tells the story of a man returning from war and falling in love with his friend’s widowed wife and The Mermaid Madonna in 1948, a story about the struggle of the refugees from Asia Minor to find a new home in the island of Lesbos. All three of his novels have powerful anti-war messages. A big part of his work consists of short stories, novellas, essays and children’s books. Most of them were translated into foreign languages and gained worldwide followers.

Characterized by a strong sense of realism, lyricism and tradition, Myrivilis drew inspiration from his own life experiences and from Hellenism, the eternal source of influence. He believed very much in the Megali Idea (the Great Idea), the liberation of the subjugated Greek territories and as a patriot, he strongly opposed communism.

Myrivilis was awarded the National Prize of Prose in 1940 for his novella The Turquoise Book. In 1958 he became a member of the Academy of Athens while in 1959 he was honoured with the Order of George I. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960, 1962 and 1963.

Bibliography:

  1. Η Ζωή του Μεγάλου μας Πεζογράφου. Στράτης Μυριβήλης. Stratis-myrivilis.weebly.com. Web.
  2. Στράτης Μυριβήλης 1890 -1969. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web.
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Stratis Myrivilis

Anacreon

anacreon

Lyric Poet (c.582 BC – c.485 BC)

A lyric poet from Teos of Asia Minor and one of the nine lyric poets of Ancient Greece. Though not as popular as the rest of the lyric poets, Anacreon remained in history as a musician and as the last lyric poet of Ancient Greece.

When Teos was conquered by the Persians in 545 BC, Anacreon moved to Abdera, Thrace. He spent a considerable amount of his life in Athens, where he was influenced by Aeschylus’ work, who at the time was at the beginning of his career. There, he also formed friendships with Pericles’ father Xanthippus, Critias and Simonides of Ceos, another one of the nine lyric poets.

Anacreon’s poetry is primarily centered on love. Even though a representative of the Aeolic School, his works feature elements of the Ionian School. It is said that most of his poems started with an invocation to Aphrodite. They were frequently accompanied by music from a barbiton in an erotic tone. He used three musical modes. Out of his entire work today only fragments survive of the following: 3 books on erotic poetry, sympotics, and hymns to Gods, 1 book on iambs and 1 book on elegies.

Anacreon became highly successful throughout Greece. His poems were widely read and acclaimed, especially by Critias, who characterized him as “soul of the symposia” and “masterful singer of the lyre”. He inspired many poets throughout history, expanding his influence up until the Byzantine era. Many amateurs attempted to imitate him. 60 of his surviving poems were found in the Palatine Anthology, discovered in 1606. The Palatine Anthology significantly influenced European poetry, including Goethe, who studied Anacreon’s works.

When Anacreon died, his compatriots minted coins depicting him. In Athens, a bronze statue of him was sculpted that stood on the Acropolis, right next to the statue of Xanthippus. Both were said to have been sculpted by Pheidias. Anacreon was subsequently portrayed in a number of potteries, as well in paintings, most notably by Jean-Leon Gerome, where he is playing his barbiton next to two cupids and Love.

Bibliography:

  1. “Anacreon”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Παλαιοθόδωρος, Δημήτρης. Ανακρέων. Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζωνος Ελληνισμού. Asiaminor.ehu.gr. January 1, 2006. Web.
Anacreon

Constantine Canaris

Konstantinos_Kanaris

Admiral, Statesman, Hero of the Greek War of Independence, Prime Minister of Greece (1793 – 1877)

Admiral of the Greek navy and ardent patriot, Constantine Canaris dominated the seas in the battles of the Greek War of Independence of 1821. His name became synonymous with the destruction of the Turkish flagships and the immense bravery he and his crew displayed. Following the Greek War of Independence, Canaris pursued a successful career in politics, serving as Greece’s Prime Minister 5 times.

Canaris came from the island of Psara. Prior to becoming the famed admiral feared by the Turks, he was a humble merchant, who travelled from Marseille to Odessa, building a wealthy fortune. With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Canaris joined the navy to wholeheartedly fight for Greece’s freedom. Unlike most other heroes of the Greek War of Independence, Canaris most probably was never a member of the Philiki Hetaereia (Society of Friends).

His participation in the front lines of the Greek War of Independence proved to have had a decisive role in its outcome. In 1922, following the massacre of Chios, where 30.000 people were killed or held hostage by the Turks, Canaris was one of the ship owners who sailed to the island to rescue the remaining survivors. His widespread fame, however, that earned him the admiration of acclaimed European artists and writers such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Pierre de Beranger, was as a triumphant destroyer of the Turkish flagships.

His first appearance in the war was on June 7th, 1821, when at night he and his crew risked their lives to set ablaze and destroy the Turkish flagship, in retaliation for the massacre of Chios. Numerous such successful attempts followed, which further stimulates the Greeks’ esteem. Furthermore, Canaris led the Greeks in a number of battles in the seas against the Ottoman fleet, such as in the Battle of Samos.

In 1826, Canaris was appointed representative of the Psara islands in the Third National Assembly of Troizena. With the coming of John Kapodistrias in Greece in 1827, Canaris was made captain of the navy. Together with admiral Andreas Miaoulis they were responsible for clearing the Aegean Sea of piracy. He was an ardent proponent of John Kapodistrias.

Canaris entered politics in 1843, as a member of the Russian party. He held the Ministry of Shipping under various different governments and served as Prime Minister of Greece himself a total of 5 times. He was bestowed the title of Vice Admiral and an honorary pension by the Greek state, the latter of which he refused.

Canaris died in 1877 while still in office as Prime Minister. He was made a national hero of Greece and his name surpassed the Greek borders to become one of the most respected heroes of the Greek War of Independence. Today, several ships of the Greek navy bear his name, in his honour.

Bibliography:

  1. Κανάρης Κωνσταντίνος. Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας και Πολιτισμού. Argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 16, 2012. Web.
  2. Μιχαλακόπουλος, Ιωάννης. Ο Μπουρλοτιέρης και Πρωθυπουργός Κωνσταντίνος Κανάρης. Πεμπτουσία. Pemptousia.gr. September 22, 2017. Web.
Constantine Canaris

Theagenes

Theagenes_receiving_the_palm_of_honour_from_Chariclea

Athlete (5th century BC)

Theagenes of Thasos was one of the greatest Olympians of ancient Greece. A runner, boxer and pankratiast, Theagenes was a boxing champion in the 75th Olympiad in 476 BC, as well as champion in the pankration in the 76th Olympic Games. His legacy evolved to that of a divine therapist.

Theagenes was believed by locals to have been the son of a god, due to his incredible strength. He became famous all over Greece at the age of 9, when one day, when walking home from school, he took a bronze statue of a god from the marketplace with him. Some of the citizens saw this as a disrespectful act and demanded the child’s death. It was decided, however, that he should return the statue to its former position. Doing this, Theagenes’ life was spared and his name rose to fame.

His first victory was in the 75th Olympic Games in 476 BC in boxing and then in the 76th Olympic Games in the pankration. He went on to achieve numerous other victories in other sports events, namely 10 in the Isthmian Games, 9 in the Nemean Games and 3 in the Pythians. Furthermore, he won in a race in Phthia, a competition dedicated to Achilles, who descended from there. His ambition was to rival Achilles’ speed.

According to Pausanias the historian, Theagenes had accumulated a total of 1400 laurel wreaths by the end of his lifetime from his victories. His compatriots, who once attempted to kill him, were very proud of him. Pausanias accounts that Glaucias had sculpted a statue of Theagenes that was positioned in Olympia, next to the statues of King Philip II and his son Alexander the Great.

After his death, a statue of his was erected in Thasos. In is said that an athlete who could never defeat Theagenes while he was alive went to the statue and flogged it every night. The statue collapsed one night and killed him. The statue was charged with murder and was thrown in the bottom of the ocean. However, drought struck the island causing a famine. When the citizens sought the Oracle of Delphi’s divination, the Oracle told them to replace the statue of Theagenes back to its original position. The Thasians did so, and the drought stopped. Since then, the Thasians started believing in Theagenes the divine God-Healer and offer him tributes.

Bibliography

  1. Θεαγένης από την Θάσο. Ίδρυμα Μείζωνος Ελληνισμού. Fhw.gr. Web.
  2. Karasavvas, Theodoros. Theagenes of Thasos: From Legendary Olympic Fighter to God-Healer. Ancient Origins. Ancient-origins.net. Web. January 17, 2017.
Theagenes

Arcesilaus

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Philosopher (316 BC – 240 BC)

Arcesilaus is the second most important representative of the Skeptic School of Philosophy, founded by Pyrrhon. A student of Theophrastus, Arcesilaus is said to have doubted everything, similar to Descartes’ skepticism. None of his works on philosophy survive. As such, what we know about his philosophy is based on others’ accounts.

He studied geometry and astronomy before settling in Athens. After studying next to Theophrastus, he joined Plato’s Academy, where he studied philosophy next to Crantor, Crates and Polemon. He succeeded Crates as the sixth headmaster of the Academy, a position which he held for 25 years until his own death.

Our understanding of Arcesilaus’ skepticism is incomplete because his philosophy is survived only from brief reports by other writers and their opponents. Hence, each one gives their own interpretation of Arcesilaus’ philosophical views. Philosophers have interpreted his philosophy in three different ways: the Academic, the Practical and the Socratic interpretations.

Arcesilaus believed that we should not give a definite opinion on anything and that we should have a suspension of judgment – a term he named universal epoche (εποχή) – when we cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood. Nevertheless, he did not deny the performance of deeds, as our actions come from our will, not from our knowledge. Arcesilaus also held another doctrine called akatalepsia (ακαταληψία), according to which nothing can be known. He was highly critical of all philosophical movements, most notably against the Stoics.

Arcesilaus’ statements that one should not form beliefs and that nothing can be known have long bewildered philosophers, who have attempted to shed light to his way of thinking. Regardless, Arcesilaus made an important step in Academic Skepticism, as a skilled dialectitian following the Socratic Method, influencing important figures in philosophy.

Biblography:

  1. Brittain, Charles. Arcesilaus. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Plato.stanford.edu. January 14, 2005. Web.
  2. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications. Athens: 2014. Print.
Arcesilaus

Xenophon

Xenophon-van-Athene

Philosopher, Historian, Economist, General (c.430 BC – 354 BC)

Xenophon of Athens made a name of himself as a multifarious individual. He was a historian, an economist and a political writer, who continued Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. In addition to being a philosopher, Xenophon was an excellent general, who encompassed all the powers and values of Ancient Greece.

He was born in Athens during the Peloponnesian War. He was a student of Socrates. When the Athenians sentenced Socrates to death, Xenophon left Athens in disgust and settled in Sparta. He became a mercenary and served in the Army of the Ten Thousands, a part of King Cyrus’s army, as they ventured to Persia to dethrone Cyrus’ brother, Artaxerxes. Xenophon would later assume the leadership of this army and lead them to safety back to Asia Minor. Xenophon’s accounts are told in his book Anabasis, one of his greatest works written, which also accounts the Battle of Cunaxa.

Xenophon was a great admirer of Sparta. Upon his return to Greece, he continued serving the Spartans as a general. For his services, Sparta provided him with a private estate in Peloponnesus, where he lived for 23 years, writing his works. Xenophon was exiled from Athens for allying with the Spartans. However, as he proved that he was a military genius, his exile was revoked. Nevertheless, he never returned to Athens.

Xenophon wrote historical, “Socratic” and didactic treatises. Among his historical works are De Republica Lacaedemoniorum, a treatise on the political and social system of Sparta, its structure and its institutions, Agesilaus, a treatise on the life and work of King Agesilaus of Sparta, whom Xenophon considered an “ideal type of man and general”, Hellenica, a continuation of Thucydides’ major historical work The History of the Peloponnesian War, which covers the events of the war from 411 BC to 362 BC and Cyropaedia, a fictional biography of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia.

His “Socratic dialogues” are works named after Socrates, who serves as the central figure of the dialogue. In Apology of Socrates, Socrates defends himself in front of the jury by demonstrating his virtue and wisdom. Memorabilia features dialogues and conversations with Socrates and the ethical influence has on others. In this category also belong two of his works Oeconomicus and Symposion, a conversation with Socrates involving home economics and a dialogue on love respectively.

Xenophon’s didactic treatises provide valuable information on the correct treatment and use of horses, instructions on strategic and tactical matters of war, as well as solutions to the remediation of Athens’ economy.

A philosopher with high educational background, Xenophon’s philosophy was largely influenced by Socrates. As a political philosopher, he endorsed the strict political system of Sparta, the goal of which was set years ago by Lycurgus. As a moral philosopher, Xenophon highlighted the importance of discipline, moderation and self-control. For him, hard work is a virtue, even for a King, as presented in Oeconomicus, where Cyrus the Great is said to be taking care of his own garden regularly.

As early from the Alexandrian era, Xenophon was highly valued by historians and philologists, who placed him among Herodotus and Thucydides. His legacy continued unchanged during the Roman Empire. In the Renaissance, European scholars used his works for didactic purposes: the Memorabilia to teach about Socrates and his philosophy, Agesilaus for the virtues of an ideal leader, Anabasis for the discipline, initiative and wise decision-making, Cyropaedia for the importance of education, and the Hellenica as the most valuable source for the history of Greece during that era.

Bibliography:

  1. Βολωνάκης, Κ. Ιωάννης. Της Αρχαίας Ελλάδος οι Μεγάλοι Ηγέται. Γεοργιάδης: Αθήναι, 1997. Print.
  2. Browning, Eve A. Xenophon. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Iep.utm.edu. Web.
  3. Διαλησμά, Δρουκόπουλος, Κουτρουμπέλη, Χρυσαφής. Αρχαίοι Έλληνες Ιστοριογράφοι. Οργανισμός Εκδόσεως Σχολικών Βιβλίων. Διδακτικά Σχολικά Βιβλία. Print.
Xenophon

The Lady of Rho

kyra_tis_ro_3

(1890 – 1982)

Every day at sunrise, Despina Achladiotou raised the Greek flag in the island of Rho and then took it down at night. She did this for 40 years. With this act, she spread the message that Rho was part of Greece and that nobody would violate its sacred ground. She became known as the Lady of Rho.

In 1924, she, her husband and her blind mother inhabited the small island at the southern coast of Turkey. When all the other inhabitants left the island, Despina and her husband faced challenges from the Turks, who wanted the island for themselves. In 1929, the Turks invaded the island and hoisted the Turkish flag. As soon as she saw the Turkish flag, Despina took it down, sew a Greek flag from white and blue fabric she carried and hoisted it in its place.

During World War II, Despina Achladiotou went to Kastellorizo to work in one of the bases of the Allies by helping out the soldiers. When the Allies ordered the evacuation of Kastellorizo, everybody fled from the island to Cyprus and Egypt. Despina Achladiotou was the only one to remain in the island and in spite of the Germans’ bombardments, continued to raise the Greek flag every day.

Despina Achladiotou stood as the protector of both islands Rho and Kastellorizo. In her brief absences, the Turks would find the chance to invade the island and raise the Turkish flag. When she returned, she removed it and placed the Greek flag once again. In 1974, when such an event occurred, the Greek navy arrived at the island to award her for her valor, her acts of patriotism and services to the nation. She received numerous decorations from the state thereafter, including from the Academy of Athens and the Greek Parliament.

Despina Achladiotou died in 1982, at the age of 92. Her final wish was to be buried at the island of Rho, right next to the pole she used to raise the flag every morning for almost half a century. History wrote her down as the Lady of Rho, the woman who ensured that the two islands always remained part of Greece and withstood every hardship to achieve it.

Bibliography

    1. Σαν σήμερα “έφυγε” η κυρά της Ρω, Δέσποινα Αχλαδιώτη, που επί μισό αιώνα σήκωνε την Ελληνική Σημαία απέναντι από τους τούρκους. Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος Χρυσή Αυγή. Xryshaygh.com. May 13, 2017. Web.
    2. «Πέρασα κακουχίες, αλλά εδώ νιώθεις πιο πολύ την Ελλάδα, χαμένος στο πέλαγος». Η κυρά της Ρω, η νησιώτισσα που ύψωνε την ελληνική σημαία για 40 χρόνια στο ερημονήσι του Αιγαίου. Μηχανή του Χρόνου. Mixanitouxronou.gr. Web.

 

The Lady of Rho