Apollodorus of Damascus

Architect, Engineer (60 – 125)

The greatest architect in Greek history and the royal architect of Emperors Trajan and his successor Hadrian. His creations, both beautiful and practical, exhibit impressive functionality even for modern-day standards and serve as incarnations of the immortal Hellenic spirit and ideals. A polymath with contributions to military engineering and philosophy, Apollodorus’ name surpassed the borders of the Roman Empire and was hailed as one of the greatest scientific minds of his time. Two of his most famous creations, Trajan’s Forum and the Pantheon of Rome serve as Hellenism’s eternal testaments to humanity.

Apollodorus came from Damascus of Syria, at the time colonized by the Greeks. During Trajan’s expedition in Dracia Apollodorus served as his chief engineer. He was comissioned to construct what would be known as the Pontes Traiani or Trajan’s Bridge, which connected both shores of the Danube River. Stretching at a length of 1135 meters, this arched bridge was made of wood and stone and was joined by two “iron gates” at both ends, which served as fortresses. Although only parts of it survive today, depictions of it can still be seen in coins and reliefs while descriptions of it left by Procopius also survive.

Following the Dracian wars, Apollodorus constructed Trajan’s Baths on the hill of Esquilinum. This enormous complex boasted a gymnasium, auditoriums, libraries and artificial cysternae for water storage. Between 107 and 113 Apollodorus built the Forum of Trajan, a complex consisting of multiple buildings which housed, among other things, markets, archives as well as two libraries, one Latin and one Greek. The forum has numerous temples namely for Athena, Venus, Mars as well as for Trajan and his wife themselves. The Forum is widely regarded as Apollodorus’ greatest architectural endeavour as well as a masterpiece exhibiting incredible technological craftsmanship.

Arguably of insuperable beauty and artistry is the Pantheon, one of the most well preserved ancient structures in all of Rome. Built in 123 by Apollodorus, the Pantheon has a round rotonda of 43,3 diameter which symbolizes the celestial sphere. As its name suggests, it was dedicated to all of the Gods. It is to this day one of the most memorable monuments of Italy as well as of the entire world, which subsequently inspired the construction of similar Panthea.

Other structures constructed by Apollodorus in Rome were the Odeon of Domitian, the Mercatus Trajani or Market of Trajan, which housed over 150 different shops and offices, the hippodrome next to the Mausoleum of Hadrian and the Aqueduct of Trajan. He paved many roads and avenues that connected cities, built the city harbour in Civitavecchia and constructed the Tropaeum Trajani, a commemorative building in Adamclisi for the Dracian wars.

Not surprisingly, Apollodorus was also involved with the construction of war machines as preserved in his writings Poliorcetica, where he describes several machines used in battles, such as the poliorcetic climax, a siege engine used to conquer walled cities and the poliorcetic turtoise, an engine resembling the shape of a turtle used for penetration of armies. It possessed wheels and a large tube which unleashed fire.

It is safe to assume that no other architect or engineer existed at the time as prolific as Apollodorus, who could combine practicality with beauty so flawlessly in his creations. With Apollodorus Greek architecture reached its apogee. Without a doubt Apollodorus made Rome stand out from the rest of the cities of the Roman Empire and made it worthy as its capitol.

Bibliography:

  1. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. (1998). Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades Publications. Athens.
  2. Blyth, P. H.. Apollodorus of Damascus and the Poliorcetica.
Apollodorus of Damascus

Stilpo

Philosopher (380 BC – 300 BC)

Stilpo was the major representative of the Megarean School of Philosophy, alongside its founder Euclid of Megara. He was a student of Diogenes the Cynic and teacher of Menedemus of the School of Eretria and of Zenon of Citium. Although all of his treatises have been lost, we know from contemporary authors that Stilpo developed a sophisticated work on ethics and logic.

Stilpo was particularly known for his austerity to his ethical moral codes, which he never defied. He believed that spiritual virtues are important for one’s living and spiritual cultivation the highest of which is the apathy of the soul, meaning a soul free of the temptations of worldly desires and possessions. True knowledge comes only from logical reasoning and not from the five senses.

Concerning the logic of Stilpo, he argued that an object or being cannot be both ideal and perceptible to the five senses simultaneously, rather that the ideal is the only real. Stilpo’s example with the cabbage is noteworthy in that the cabbage which we see in the grocery shop is not a real cabbage. The real cabbage is the ideal one, which has existed and will exist in the eternity of time. Therefore the cabbage presented before us is not a real cabbage. Stilpo rejected Plato’s Theory of Ideas as well as Leucippus‘ and Democritus‘ atomic theory, stating that the being is indivisible, unborn and immortal. Diogenes Laertius attributes 9 books to Stilpo on the subjects of philosophy, logic and ethics, which, like Plato‘s books were written in the form of dialogues.

Having achieved great fame in Athens, Stilpo was able to establish the Megarean School of Thought as a powerful voice of alternative reason in Greece, attracting numerous people as well as eminent thinkers of his time, who attended his lectures. Such was his prestige that Demetrius the Conquerer (Poliorketes), King of Macedonia ordered to spare his house when his army invaded Megara. He went as far as to visit him in his house after the raid to be assured whether he had not been robbed of anything, to which Stilpo replied: “I didn’t notice anyone taking away science”. Furthermore, Stilpo had earned Ptolemy I Soter‘s admiration, who presented him with a large sum of money, offering him a position in Egypt alongside him. Truthful, however, to his teachings Stilpo returned the money and declined, preferring to live a life of moderation in Aegina in accordance to his conscience.

Bibliography:

  1. Pleures, Konstantinos. (1968). Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications. Athens: 2014.
  2. Στίλπων ο Μεγαρεύς (360 – 280 π.κ.χ.). Η Τέχνη στην Ελλάδα. 8 Φεβρουαρίου 2012. Διαθέσιμον εἰς: http://art-hellas.blogspot.com/2012/06/360-280.html
  3. Stilpo. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Available at: https://iep.utm.edu/stilpo/
Stilpo

Chrysostomos of Smyrna

Metropolitan Bishop (1867 – 1922)

Metropolitan Bishop of Smyrna Chrysostomos was the spiritual leader of all the Greeks of Asia Minor during the turbulent years of the Greco-Turkish War. He along with a number of other bishops and priests was among the victims of the Turkish atrocities during the Great Fire of Smyrna and its aftermath, refusing to leave behind his flock. Chrysostomos is recognized today as a Saint by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Chrysostomos’ work can be divided into two parts. His work as Metropolitan Bishop of Drama from 1902 to 1910 and his work as Metropolitan Bishop of Smyrna later on until his death in 1922. As Metropolitan Bishop of Drama Chrysostomos became one of the primary leaders of the Macedonian Struggle, immediately taking actions to enforce the Greek presence of Macedonia and protect the Greeks from the Bulgarian raid and the Turkish occupation. In 8 years Chrysostomos had implemented a social-welfare and educational program which accomplished the founding of 34 schools across Macedonia, most of which had been closed by the Bulgarians, the building of hospitals, graveyards as well as the metropolitan Church of Drama.

As the torchbearer of the Macedonian Idea he accomplished the annulment of the Bulgarian raids in Drama. Chrysostomos sought to raise awareness of the oppression and sufferings of the Greeks in Macedonia by gathering and compiling evidence of the propaganda and the atrocities of the Bulgarians and the Turks to inform, sensitize and awaken Europe. His two books and multiple essays were communicated to foreign Churches, embassies and associations as a means from the bishop to seek help.

His intensive actions soon came into conflict with the Sultan as well as with the interests of the British, who had proclaimed Drama and its neighbouring villages as their zone of influence, forcing Chrysostomos to resign from his position. It was during that time that Metropolitan Bishop of Smyrna Vasilios had passed away, prompting the Holy Synod to elect Chrysostomos as his rightful successor.

With his coming to Smyrna, Chrysostomos was hailed as a national hero and spiritual leader of all the Hellenism of Asia Minor. Under his leadership schools were renovated and gymnastics introduced as a compulsory subject. Churches were rebuilt, athletic associations inaugurated and the Metropolitan Megaron of Smyrna constructed. Chrysostomos’ prime objective was to combat poverty and inequality. He organized a group of clerics, dubbed the “Army of Salvation” by the people, who actively offered food, shelter and medical care to the impoverished. His programs supported Turks as much as the Greeks and both enjoyed mutual benefits of Chrysostomos’ policies as both were equals. Driven by a strong sense of patriotism, Chrysostomos averted the raids of the Tsetes of Rahman Bei against the Greeks of Asia Minor and continued to gather and publish evidence of the destruction of the Greek settlements. Furthermore, he succeeded in removing Nurendin Pasha as vali (administrator) of Smyrna and was one of the very few who accused Eleutherios Venizelos rightfully as the culprit of the destruction of Smyrna and Asia Minor.

Chrysostomos was far from just a bishop. He was a hellenist, a fighter, a visionary, who offered unconditionally his services to Greece to see the revival of the Byzantine Empire, the embodiment of the Great Idea (Megali Idea), unfold. Unfortunately, fate has tragic endings destined for heroes such as Chrysostomos, whose sacrifice was an inevitable consequence of the disastrous conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War. He was apprehended by Nurendin Pasha who, in retribution delivered him to a ferocious Turkish mob, which tortured him to death and tore his body apart. Chrysostomos’ gruesome death could have been avoided, but he chose instead an honourable death next to the people he served all his life rather than abandoning them in the mercy of the Turks. As the late contemporary historian Sarantos Kargakos said: “[The Turks] killed the man and made him into an idea. And ideas never die and are never conquered”.

Bibliography:

  1. Καργᾶκος, Σαρᾶντος. 2010. Ἡ Μικρασιατικὴ Ἑκστρατεία. Ἀθήνα. (2 τόμοι)
  2. Καργᾶκος, Σαρᾶντος. Ὁ Ἐθνομάρτυς Χρυσόστομος. Myriobiblos On Line Library of the Church of Greece. Available at: http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/greek/kargakos_chrysostom/index.htm. Retrieved on September 16, 2020.
Chrysostomos of Smyrna

Dimitri Nanopoulos

Physicist (1948)

In 2013 British physicist Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize of Physics for the discovery of the homonymous elementary particle. During the closing of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Higgs mentioned a 1976 research paper which proposed a scientific method for discovering the Higgs boson as having prompted scientists to avidly start searching for the existence of that particle. This paper was written by a team of three physicists. One of them was Dimitri Nanopoulos.

Nanopoulos is one of the world’s most cited scientists, an international authority in the field of high-energy physics, quantum mechanics and cosmology standing in the epicenter of the most modern advancements observed in physics. His research is regarded as having influenced modern physics to an extraordinary degree. He earned his degree in physics in the University of Athens before obtaining his doctorate in the University of Sussex. His first breakthrough contribution in physics was a research paper co-written with John Ellis and Mary Gaillard in 1976 entitled “The Phenomenological Profile of the Higgs Boson”. This paper marked the beginning of an intensive experimental search by the scientific community for what had been proposed by Peter Higgs as the Higgs boson.

In 1977 Nanopoulos and his team published a paper on the Grand Unified Theories, the prodrome of the string theory, while simultaneously proving the existence of 6 quarks. This groundbreaking research paper inaugurated a new era in the field of particle physics and cosmology while also laying down the foundations of a new field of physics called Astroparticle Physics. Nanopoulos has also published research on elementary particles such as leptons and the neutralino and on dark matter.

In 1979 he began working in CERN. Together with Sheldon Lee Glashow Nanopoulos calculated the production of the Higgs boson by means of an experimental method called gluon collision, which was the key method used in the discovery of the Higgs boson in the Large Hadron Collider of CERN. In the same year he began focusing on the string theory and by extension on supersymmetry.

Today, Nanopoulos has published over 675 research papers. In September 2004 he became the 4th most cited theoretical physicist of all time. He has served as professor in some of the most prestigious universities in America such as Stanford, Harvard and Texas A&M, as the national representative of Greece in CERN and other organizations of physics and space and was appointed as the 90th President of the Academy of Athens in 2015. He has been lauded multiple times, being twice the holder of the Gravity Research Foundation Award and as the recipient of the 2009 Enrico Fermi Prize for his contributions in the discovery of the fundamental properties of the Great Unification and the string theory.

Nanopoulos aims to unveil the secrets of the creation of the Universe, the existence of parallel worlds and to find the basic equation of creation of the Multiverse. His life’s goal is to discover the Grand Unified Theory, the dream of every theoretical physicist and to provide answers to man’s greatest question.

Bibliography:

  1. Νανόπουλος, Δημήτρης (2015). Στὸν Τρίτο Βράχο ἀπὸ τὸν Ἥλιο. Ἐκδόσεις Πατάκη. Ἀθήνα. 2α Ἔκδοσις.
Dimitri Nanopoulos

Philo of Byzantium

Engineer, Inventor (c.260 BC – c.180 BC)

Philo was one of the greatest engineers of the Hellenistic period, a pioneer in mechanics and the construction of automata. He was one alongside many illustrious scholars who worked in Alexandria, the most highly advanced spiritual center in the Western World at the time.

Philo was a student of the famed engineer Ctesibius. He descended from the city of Byzantium, lived in Rhodes and eventually settled in Alexandria. He compiled numerous treatises on applied mechanics, the most important of which is Michaniki Syntaxis (Mechanical Syntax), an encyclopaedia which includes descriptions and applications of multiple inventions. Other treatises such as Mochlika described the use of levers while Pneumatica contains studies on machines oeparted by air and steam.

Having suided next to giants of engineering, Philo was able to advance the science of engineering to a remarkable degree. His treatises attest an extraordinary level of expertise in multiple different fields of engineering. He constructed pneumatics, machines which functioned with the use of compressed air, levers, tools and hourglasses. Philo invented the piston, the air pump, several toys as well as household appliances used in everyday life.

As Diaded of Pella was a master craftsman of military war machines, so was Philo with the construction of ballistas, catapults and crossbows. Philo’s war machines were used in the besieging of well-fortified city-states and operated using large rocks or arrows. His ballistas operated on compressed air. Furthermore, he built walls, towers and fortifications of cities as well as harbours and ports. Philo also invented a sibilant system which was placed in lighthouses.

It should come to no surprise that as a predecessor of Hero of Alexandria, Philo was one of the pioneers in automatic machines, two of which are known and have been reconstructed today. These were the hydroautomaton horse drinking water and the maiden pouring water in a krater. These automata were used more as a means of entertainment rather than to serve practical purposes, however, they exhibit a high level of knowledge on physics and demonstrate the apogee which technology had reached during the Hellenistic period by the Greeks.

Undoubtedly Philo was a master engineer who showed that he could put theoretical knowledge into practice. His extensive studies on physics, primarily in the field of aerodynamics and thermodynamics, his works in mathematics and the doubling of the cube, as well as in cryptography are all but mere testaments of this man’s genius.

Bibliography:

  1. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. (1998). Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades Publications. Athens.
  2. Kotsanas, Kostas. (2013) Ancient Greek Technology The Inventions of the ancient Greeks. Kostas Kotsanas Publications. Pyrgos.
  3. Rance, Philip. (2013). “Philo of Byzantium”. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Chapter: “Philo of Byzantium”, Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, Editors: R.S. BAGNALL et al, pp.5266-8
  4. Φίλων ο Βυζάντιος (280 Π.Χ. 220 Π.Χ.). Δίοδος η Πύλη της Γνώσης. October 12, 2018. Available at: https://www.diodos.gr/%CE%B1%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B1%CE%AF%CE%B1-%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B1/%CE%B5%CF%86%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%81%CE%AD%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%82/item/%CF%86%CE%AF%CE%BB%CF%89%CE%BD-%CE%BF-%CE%B2%CF%85%CE%B6%CE%AC%CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82-280-%CF%80-%CF%87-220-%CF%80-%CF%87.html. Retrieved August 3rd, 2020.
Philo of Byzantium

Chares of Lindos

Sculptor, Architect (4th century BC)

The initiate of the Ancient Mysteries Chares was a sculptor and architect from Rhodes and a student of the great sculptor Lysippus. He created the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the tallest statue ever built for 2100 years.

The exact date of his birth and death are not known, but based on the accounts of ancient writers and historians Chares lived during the 4th century BC, referred to as the Hellenistic times. At that time Greece was experiencing an age of great technological and mathematical advancement. The Library of Alexandria and the Museum were but a mere testament of the level of spiritual cultivation Greece had achieved. Furthermore, the empire of Alexander the Great was ruled over by his Diadochi, most importantly Ptolemaic Egypt, where the progress of science and technology were greatly promoted.

It was during this period when Chares was given the task to construct an enormous bronze statue of Apollo which would be placed on the entrance of the harbour of Rhodes. Before this enormous undertaking, few gargantuan statues had been sculpted, most notably the 15 meter statue of Zeus and the 12 meter statue of Athena Parthenos in Olympia and the Parthenon respectively by the master initiate Pheidias.

Funding for the construction of the Colossus came from selling the war machines left behind by Demetrius Poliorcetes after the great siege of Rhodes in 305 BC. It was built in a period of 12 years and was completed in 280 BC. Weighing a total of 225 tonnes, the Colossus of Rhodes became the tallest sculpture ever created by man, standing at an intimidating height of 33 meters. This achievement was not surpassed for 2100 years until the Statue of Liberty was built in 1886, which is only 11 meters taller than the Colossus of Rhodes. Due to its immense size, Chares utilized a unique method of construction which employed the use of multiple beams placed so that they could hold the statue in place and prevent it from collapsing. The Colossus was thus built from the bottom to the top. Pliny states that the Colossus was so big that very few were those who could fully embrace their hands around the Colossus’ thumb. The Colossus held a torch with its hand at the top of its head which was lit with fire.

Numerous ancient writers and historians mention the Colossus of Rhodes in their writings, including Pliny, Strabo, Stobaeus, Polybius and Philo of Byzantium, all of whom express their amazement for the construction of such a marvellous structure. Pliny refers to the Colossus as a masterpiece while contemporary archaeologist and academic Nigel Spivey wrote that with the Colossus of Rhodes Chares of Lindos gave the world a second sun.

The Colossus of Rhodes stood in place for 56 years until an earthquake caused it to break at the level of the knees and collapse. Nevertheless, the Colossus was displayed in Rhodes in lying position as the Rhodians, upon receiving a divination from the Oracle of Delphi, did not restore it. Many years later the remains of the Colossus were purchased by a Jewish merchant, who used 700 camels to transport the bronze fragments to Syria.

The Colossus of Rhodes represented the level of perfection the Greeks had achieved in architecture and sculpture during the Hellenistic era as well as the ideals which the Greeks had placed in the epicenter of their souls: spiritual light.

Bibliography:

  1. Γεωργακόπουλος, Κωνσταντίνος. 1995. Ἀρχαῖοι Ἕλληνες Θετικοὶ Ἐπιστήμονες. Ἐκδόσεις Γεωργιάδης. Β’ Ἔκδοσις. Ἀθῆναι.
  2. Λάζος, Χρήστος Δ. (2008). Μηχανική καί Τεχνολογία στην άρχαία Ρόδο. Σελ. 165. Εκδόσεις Σαββιού. ISBN 978-960-98603-0-7
  3. Manly P. Hall (1928). The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Dover Publications, INC. Mineola, New York. Print.
  4. Η μεγάλη πολιορκία της Ρόδου όπου χρησιμοποιήθηκε για πρώτη φορά η πολεμική μηχανή Ελέπολις ύψους 45 μέτρων. Μετά τη μάχη εκποίησαν τον μηχανισμό και ανήγειραν τον Κολοσσό… Μηχανή του Χρόνου. Mixanitouxronou.gr. Διαθέσιμον εἰς: http://www.mixanitouxronou.gr/i-megali-poliorkia-tis-rodoy-opoy-chrisimopoiithike-gia-proti-fora-i-polemiki-michani-elepolis-ypsoys-45-metron-meta-ti-machi-ekpoiisan-ton-michanismo-kai-anigeiran-ton-kolosso/
Chares of Lindos

Strato

Philosopher, Mathematician, Physicist, Scholar (c.320 BC – c.270 BC)

Straton of Lampsacus was an Aristotelian philosopher. He succeeded Theophrastus as the third headmaster of the Peripatetic School of philosophy, also known as Aristotle‘s Lyceum. Strato was primarily involved with the physical aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy, which he analysed and expanded upon, earning the title of “physicist”. A supporter of the atomic theory, he attempted to combine Aristotle’s physics with Democritus‘ philosophy.

Athens and Alexandria were the two major cities where Strato lived and worked. In Alexandria he befriended Ptolemy II Philadelphus the Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt and served as his teacher and mentor. It is not unlikely that Strato worked in the Museum of Alexandria, meeting and working alongside highly prestigious scientists. It was presumably in Athens where he first came into contact with Aristotle’s philosophy through Theophrastus and joined the Lyceum as a scholar.

As a philosopher, Strato dealt with the component of philosophy now known as physics, aiming to interpret the natural world and the metaphysical concepts by logic and mathematical laws. He wrote extensive treatises on physiology, zoology, cosmology, logic, ethics, psychology and natural history. Strato taught that the natural world was bound by laws which governed the way it functioned. According to this teaching Strato accepted that the intellect is a biological phenomenon, which modern medicine has indeed established through the actions of the brain nuclei, the neural tracts and the neurotransmitters. He viewed the intellect as an action of the mind inasmuch as smell and vision are actions of the nose and the eyes respectively while asserted that the soul of man is a moving force consisting of logical and illogical components. He elaborated that the intellectual process is a movement and is the force which moves the soul to execute its functions. Behind every move that drives the soul there is a cause. The seat of the soul is the brain and the sensory organs “windows” of the soul to the physical world.

Strato is considered as the representative philosopher of the theory of “materialism”. He postulated on the void theory, according to which all substances are composed of void. This would explain their weight difference as Strato attributed them to differences in the extent of the void. The presence of void within all substances would further explain why one substance can penetrate an other. He employed the use of the experimental method in his research to reach his deductions. He studied the motion of solid objects, researched inertia and proved by the experimental method that bodies during free fall exhibit acceleration. Furthermore, he discovered the nature of sound and asserted that the sound’s pitch is due to the frequency of the sound. Strato researched psychology, sleep and the function of dreams.

After serving 18 years as headmaster of the Lyceum, Strato passed away and was succeeded by Lycon, one of his students. It is most reasonable to acknowledge that had at least some books of Strato’s literary corpus survived, his position in history as a major Peripatetic philosopher would have been more righteous.

Bibliography:

  1. Γεωργακόπουλος, Κωνσταντίνος. 1995. Ἀρχαῖοι Ἕλληνες Θετικοὶ Ἐπιστήμονες. Ἐκδόσεις Γεωργιάδης. Β’ Ἔκδοσις. Ἀθῆναι.
  2. Straton o Lamsakenos. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Ioannis Passas, Athens, 1946.
  3. Gottschalk, H.B., (2020). Strato of Lampsacus.Encyclopaedia.com. Available at: https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/philosophy-and-religion/philosophy-biographies/strato-lampsacus. Retrieved: July 5, 2020.
Strato

Dimitrios Papanikolis

Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1790 – 1855)

Dimitrios Papanikolis was a naumachos (warrior of the sea) of the Greek navy who fought against the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence. He distinguished in the seas, most notably in the Battle of Gerontas in 1824 where he became a hero as a pioneer in the use of fire ships in the war. He is one of the heroes of the Greek War of Independence alongside Constantine Canaris and other admirals referred to as μπουρλοτιέρης (burlotieris), meaning he who manages the explosives or he who lights fire (from French burler meaning to burn) indicating his role in the war in handling fire ships to destroy enemy ships.

Born in the island of Psara, Papanikolis’ family had been traditionally involved with ships and trade. He would be employed to his father’s ships and often take part in battles against pirates in the Algerian coast. With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence he set his ship to the service of the war after arming it with his own expenses. On May the same year Papanikolis set sail to Eressos in Lesbos where, jointly with Georgios Kalaphatis built a fire ship and detonated the Turkish two-decker warship “Behtas Kaptan”. This marked the first successful attempt a fire ship was used in battle against the Ottoman navy.

Later that year in July he took part in a number of battles along the coasts of Asia Minor with his own ship. He was one of the admirals sent to Lesbos in order to defend the island from the incoming fleet of the Ottoman Empire, however, the battle was avoided when the Ottoman navy suffered enormous casualties from Constantine Canaris and his fleet and retreated to Marmara Sea.

In 1824 Papanikolis joined admirals Miaoulis, Matrozos, Nicodemus and Pipinos in the Battle of Gerontas off the coast of Didim in Asia Minor, regarded as the most important victory of the Greeks in the sea during the war. During the battle 70 ships bearing the Greek flag confronted an armada of over 250 flagships and warships of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. On the final day of the battle, which proved to be the most decisive in its outcome, the Greek ships mingled with the Ottoman and the Egyptian fleet enabling the use of fire ships by Papanikolis which blasted the enemy’s frigates. By the end of the Battle of Gerontas Papanikolis had cemented himself as one of Greece’s most glorious heroes of the war alongside his fellow sailors.

After Greece gained its independence, Papanikolis returned to his career as merchant, until King Otto offered to purchase his ship and in return appointed him as member of the royal fleet. He served as president of the maritime court of Greece until his death and held other positions of power such as captain of the corvette “Amalia” and plenipotentiary of Psara. In honour of his services to the freedom of Greece, the navy named 3 ships after him, one of which was used during the Second World War.

Bibliography:

  1. Lycoudis, S.E. Papanikolis Dimitrios. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Ioannis Passas, Athens, 1946.
  2. Η Ναυμαχία του Γέροντα. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Available at :https://www.sansimera.gr/articles/662
  3. Γιαννόπουλος, Νίκος. Πώς τα πυρπολικά εξελίχθηκαν σε ένα τρομερό πολεμικό όπλο στα χέρια των Ελλήνων ναυτικών του 1821. Οι κυβερνήτες τους Παπανικολής, Πιπίνος και Ματρόζος έδωσαν τα ονόματά τους στα θρυλικά υποβρύχια…Μηχανή του Χρόνου. Mixanitouxronou.gr. Available at: http://www.mixanitouxronou.gr/pos-ta-pirpolika-exelichthikan-se-ena-tromero-polemiko-oplo-sta-cheria-ton-ellinon-naftikon-tou-1821-i-kivernites-tous-papanikolis-pipinos-ke-matrozos-edosan-ta-onomata-tous-sta-thrilika-ipovrichia/
Dimitrios Papanikolis

Polykleitos

Sculptor (5th century BC)

The greatest sculptor of antiquity following Pheidias and Praxiteles, active during the 5th century BC when Athens and the whole Hellenic world experienced the golden age. He was from the city of Argos, where he had based his sculpture workshop. A favourite of the Romans, Polykleitos was hailed as a master of his craftsmanship and the man who perfected Pheidias’ art of sculpture. His name not coincidentally means “vey glorious”.

Polykleitos was a student of Pheidias and roughly 17 years younger than him. He had achieved similar fame as his teacher in his hometown for creating the frieze and marbles of the Heraion, a temple dedicated to goddess Hera. The frieze depicted the birth of Zeus, the Titanomachy and events from the Trojan War. Upon becoming a respected sculptor in all of Greece he set workshops throughout different cities and worked by commissions. He studied next to prestigious sculptors Agelas and Myron and had met and befriended Socrates and his students while in Athens.

With a few exceptions, almost all of Polykleitos’ sculptures were made of bronze. He was known as the greatest bronze sculptor of his time with his specialty being depicting young male athletes. Rather than placing emphasis on vividness of emotional expression, Polykleitos decided to perfect the symmetry and the beauty of the human body. Nowhere is this more evident than in his sculpture Doryphoros estimated to have been created in 450 BC. It depicts a young man standing on his right leg, holding a spear on his left. This statue was the most copied statue in antiquity by the Romans and was referred to as Kanon, the prototype or standard on which’s symmetry and beauty all future sculptures would be based on as Galen had pointed out that Doryphoros‘ beauty’s lies in its proportions of mathematical accuracy. Marble copies of it exist today, the most famous one being exhibited in the Museum of Naples.

As none of Polykleitos’ original bronze statues survive today, ancient writers commemorate many of his works in their writings, among them Pliny. Some of his most important works were Diadoumenos estimated to have been sculptured around 420 BC. Its marble replica in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens depicts a young athlete tying a headband around his forehead. It exhibits all the virtues that Doryphoros conveys. The statue of Hera in the the temple of Hera of Argos was the counterpart of Pheideias’ giant statue of Zeus in Olympia. This 8 meter tall statue was the only one of Polykleitos’ statues not made of bronze but instead of golden ivory. The acclaimed geographer and historian Strabo considered the statue of Hera superior in beauty to Pheideias’ statues of Zeus and Athena in Olympia and the Parthenon respectively. Similarly the statue of the Wounded Amazon was considered as the best statue that depicted an Amazon in the entire world. The statue, which was situated in the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, was awarded the first prize in Ephesus with Pheidias placing second.

Cyniscus was one of the statues that embodied Polykleitos’ expertise in crafting statues of athletes. So were the statues of famed Olympian athletes Aristion, Thersilochus, Antipatros, Xenocles and Pythocles, all of which were found in Olympia. Polykleitos sculpted athletes in various positions such as the Apoxyomenos, a young athlete cleaning himself from the dust of the Pankration, and the Astragalizontes, a pair of youths playing a game with dice. Apart from athletes, the Divine was a big part of Polykleitos’ inspiration. He sculpted the statue of Heracles Hegetor (Hercules the Leader), Heracles Hydroctonus (Hercules killing the Hydra) and the marble complex featuring Apollo, Artemis and Leto in the temple of Artemis Orthia.

When Greece became occupied by the Romans, the Greek statues were seen with immense enthusiasm by the Roman aristocracy. They were collected and exhibited in their premises while multiple copies were created and sold. Polykleitos’ name was thus very common among wealthy Roman citizens; it was said that while he may not have succeeded in portraying the humans with the magnificence of the Gods as Pheidias had done, Polykleitos achieved the perfection of the human body and made it more beautiful than it is in reality.

Bibliography:

  1. Theophanides, B.D. Polykleitos. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Ioannis Passas, Athens, 1946.
  2. Harris, B., Zucker, S., Polykleitos, Doryphosors (Spear-Bearer). Khan Academy. Accessed on June 10th, 2020. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/greece-etruria-rome/a/polykleitos-doryphoros-spear-bearer
  3. Συγγραφικὴ ὁμὰς τῆς Ἀργολικῆς Ἀρχειακῆς Βιβλιοθήκης. 2009. Πολύκλειτος. Ἀργολικὴ Ἀρχειακὴ Βιβλιοθήκη Ἱστορίας καὶ Πολιτισμοῦ. Argolikivivliothiki.gr.
Polykleitos

Speusippus

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Philosopher, Mathematician, Biologist, Scholar (407 BC – 339 BC)

Speusippus was Plato‘s nephew, who succeeded him as headmaster of the Academy. A Platonic philosopher with strong inclination to Pythagoreanism, Speusippus was primarily involved with philosophic arithmology as well as zoology and botany. As all of his works have been lost, it is difficult to draw an understanding of Speusippus’ philosophic thought and his work is known to us through the works of other philosophers.

Speusippus was the son of Plato’s sister Potone. He was educated from a young age by Plato himself who, in spite of seeing flaws in his character, chose him as his successor to his Academy in 348 BC. Speusippus was at his core a Platonic philosopher. He taught that one must possess a collective understanding of the whole in order to gain knowledge on a certain subject and that the general ontologic knowledge of the universe is a prerequisite to understanding reality. He believed in the immortality of man’s soul, that itself had three parts, the epithymitikon (instincts and desires), the thymoides (emotions) and the logistikon (reason) and that man must live in accordance to nature (κατά φύσιν ζῆν) in order to achieve eudaemony. In turn, eudaemony, the true form of happiness is mediated through the practice of the four virtues: sophrosyne, valour, prudence and justice. These theses are elaborated in his book Homoia (Same Things), which does not survive today albeit only in the works of Athenaeus. In the same book he devises a classification of animals and includes detailed descriptions of different animal species.

The theory of “scientific sense” and “scientific logos” were postulated by Speusippus, according to which the senses, if guided by the scientific method can give us a false perception of reality as they hide the essence of the sensible objects. On the contrary, the noetic or intellectual objects or beings can only be perceived by the scientific logos. This second method is what can give man a clear perception of the reality of the intellectual beings.

Speusippus continued Plato’s research on mathematics, focusing more on the philosophic and metaphysical nature of numbers similarly to the Pythagoreans, a field called philosophic arithmolgy. This sparked great controversy from Aristotle and his disciples as evident from Aristotle‘s texts. Furthermore, Speusippus was involved with the study of geometry, in particular on triangles and pyramids. His innovations on the field, however, are lost.

Speusippus died in 339 BC and his seat as headmaster of the Academy was passed to Xenocrates. He suffered from rheumatism during his older years, which nonetheless did not restrain him from practicing his academic duties. When Diogenes the Cynic once saw Speusippus being carried on a litter due to his inability to walk, he deplored him saying that it is not worth living in such a condition. Speusippus replied saying “Man, Diogenes, does not live by his legs but by his mind”.

Bibliography:

  1. Pleures, Konstantinos. 2014. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications. Athens. pp. 119-120
  2. Georgoulis, K.D. Speusippus. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Ioannis Passas, Athens, 1946.
  3. Γεωργακόπουλος, Κωνσταντίνος. 1995. Ἀρχαῖοι Ἕλληνες Θετικοὶ Ἐπιστήμονες. Ἐκδόσεις Γεωργιάδης. Β’ Ἔκδοσις. Ἀθῆναι.
Speusippus